I’m not sure on which particular day it occurred to us, or to which one of us, but at some point over the course of Susanne’s pregnancy somebody had the giddy-making revelation that we would soon have the opportunity to dress up our baby for Halloween. We had total control over the nature, cost, and cuteness of the outfit, because how is a 2-month-old going to stop us? It was a dizzying amount of power, really. Over the next several months, we returned to conversations about The Costume. A lion? Maybe a bumblebee. Babies dressed as bumblebees are pretty damn adorable. Or maybe a pea pod, Susanne suggested. I worried it would be too derivative of Anne Geddes’ work with infants, but it stayed in the realm of possibility, which, if I’m being honest, was about as large as half of Delaware. We considered every possible Halloween costume, even ones we’d need to craft together ourselves.
It’s not that we’re big on pagan holidays, although Christmas with the gift-giving and all is pretty spectacular. It’s more of a combination of wistfulness for our own trick-or-treating days, an excitement about the baby having his own fun, and well, costumes.
But of course, idealism quickly gives way to reality, and then crumbles into deception.
Yes, the pea pod costume won out, as evidenced by the photo. These are the days that Emile will refer to when he’s 17 and lying on a therapist’s couch complaining about his batty parental units. But before we approach late adolescence and his need to figure out who he is as a person, we’ll have plenty more moments to explain why we dressed him in such a potentially humiliating fashion. Susanne made an approximation of a possible future conversation with our future toddler. According to her, it could go something like this:
Susanne: Halloween is a holiday where children dress up like vegetables. They go around to other people’s houses and collect candy, then give this to their parents in exchange for vegetables.
Emile: Oh. Why is that boy in a lion costume?
Susanne: Because he doesn’t know about Halloween. He’s celebrating All Hallow’s Eve. Now hand over that Kit-Kat. Would you like a carrot or an eggplant?
I swear, we’re not evil people. We’ll even let Emile have some of the candy, parsed out over so many months it winds up stale and inhospitable to his taste buds, and just in time for Easter. My plan here is to play up his slight Jewish background and convince him that he’s not eligible for a basket of still more candy.
Me: Jewish boys and girls celebrate the spring with a big party called Purim.
Emile: Is there candy?
Me: No, there’s hiking in the woods and playing outside. And vegetables.
Emile: Why does every holiday have to come with vegetables?
Me: Because God is punishing us for our sin.
Okay, I may be going off the rails. There’s no reason to pass down my Catholic guilt to him, I’m sure.
For Halloween 2011 I’m sure we’ll have more than a few kids stopping by to knock on the door and get whatever candy is on sale at K-Mart next week. I’ll be there to dole it out to them and smile grimly as I watch their parents hate me when the inevitable sugar rush crashes over their children. At least any hatred sent my way will be diffused among the other enablers in the neighborhood who agreed to ruin the next generation’s metabolisms, or whatever it is we’re doing.
I may even wear my Eeyore costume to hand out the candy if it doesn’t make me too creepy.