For Halloween, most little girls dress as a mermaid or princess, like Elsa from “Frozen” or Snow White from well, “Snow White.” Not my daughter. When she was five, she declared, “Halloween is about being scary, not cute!” Thus began a series of non-cute (but seriously cute) costumes. She’s dressed as a vampire, a vampire bat, a vampire with even more blood and sharper fangs and my personal favorite, the Grim Reaper.
While trick-or-treating, it was adorable to watch my 3-foot escort to the underworld literally knocking on our elderly neighbors doors, covered in a hood, holding a scythe made from cardboard and aluminum foil. Thrilled they weren’t actually dying, neighbors forked over the king-sized candy bars.
This year, I thought we could use a change of pace, so I encouraged her to dress as Louise from “Bob’s Burgers.” It’s one of our favorite shows and we joke about how she is so Louise, and I am so Linda. Nope. She didn’t entertain the idea for a moment before she said, “I already know who I’m going to be!” She tussled her hair, hid around the corner, peeked her head out at me with a creepy grin and said, “Here’s Johnny!” Yes, my 11-year-old baby girl has decided to dress as Jack Nicholson’s character from “The Shining.”
I know what you’re thinking. “Why in the world would a little girl want to be something so nefarious for Halloween?” You’re also thinking, “What kind of mother would let their child watch “The Shining?”
In my defense, I’d totally forgotten how frightening this Stephen King classic was. So when it popped up on television one Saturday afternoon, I thought, “This will be fun—scary little twins and red rum. Mmm, rum sounds good!” Isn’t that kitschy and fun? No, no it’s not. It’s terrifying. Fortunately, my daughter laughed through it saying, “That blood seeping out of the walls is so fake,” and “How come you never let me ride a tricycle through a creepy mansion?”
On one hand, I feel like as a parent I should not let my daughter portray a deranged alcoholic hellbent on murdering his family. But on the other hand, I find it kind of cool that she is such a weirdo. She’s never been a princess or mermaid girly-girl in real life so why should she be one for Halloween? This is who she is. Not Jack Nicholson or a psychotic hotel keeper, but a child who has always marched to the beat of her own funny, strange, and sometimes a little dark, drum. And drum rhymes with rum. And rum is always good. Unless it’s a reflection in the mirror. Mmm, hot toddy’s for Halloween! But I’m getting away from the point. Here’s the point.
I was an easy-going kid. My mom would usually pick out my costume because we had something in the basement that would be just “perfect!” She’d say, “Want to be a Christmas package made out of a microwave box and a bow?” And I’d say, “What could be better?” One year I was a bag of jellybeans, where my mom tied a plastic bag around my body (fortunately not around my head, because I lived to tell about it) and filled the bag with balloons. I was a total guinea pig child. If my mom said, “Let’s do this,” I’d say, “Sure, I’ll dress up like a doily or pillow pet or pretzel with a cheese dip dog. Why not?” I was not only easy going, but clearly lazy. In fact, I believe the definition of lazy is allowing someone to tie a bag of plastic around one’s body and fill it with balloons.
Being so agreeable and a Pinterest project does come at a price. One year, when we were running out of ideas and time (never a good combination) my mother suggested I dress up like a traveling salesman with a little mustache and plaid briefcase. Let me preface this by saying I had recently grown my hair out of a pixie cut and had tired of everyone telling my parents what a cute little boy I was. So when my mom suggested I dress up like a traveling salesman, I was none too thrilled. But I had no ideas of my own, and the mustache was kind of cool, so Willy Loman I was.
My kiddo celebrating the darker side of Halloween is a sign that she will always be her own person, even when dressing up like someone else. She will never be a bag of jelly beans or Arthur Miller character. And that might be a good thing.
My daughter is celebrating Halloween this year as it should be, with humor, wit and a little fright. And there is nothing scarier than an 11-year-old girl dressed in flannels and a hatchet knocking on our neighbor’s door, screaming, “Here’s Johnny!” So get ready and have some king-sized candy bars ready, and maybe some rum for the mamas.