Saturday, October 25, 2008

Batman Strikes Again...

When I was a kid the neighbors on Hollywood Avenue would sit outside and wait to see what remarkable Halloween costumes the three Kamhi girls were wearing.  They were always special, always ingenious, and always homemade.  Some of the costumes I remember were characters such Pinocchio (with a long paper mache nose), Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel (with a handmade wig that reached the floor), a chef, a cook, an artist; and a scarecrow to name a few.

The older I got the more proud I became of our costumes and of the spectacle they became to the neighbors who waited in anticipation.

If I being really truthful, it made me more than proud.  It made me a Halloween costume snob. I would excitedly hunker down in my apartment on Halloween night, in my 20s and early 30s, waiting for trick or treaters to knock on my door.  Of course anyone who rang the door bell got candy, but the kids with great (code for homemade costumes) got an extra candy bar or the really good stuff (Milk Ways or Snickers) instead of the second rate treats like candy corn.  I was indignant, knowing that one day I would have my own kids and they, for sure, would be sporting homemade costumes and scoring all kinds of Milky Way and Snickers bars.

Then I met Richard and Ricky and all of a sudden I was going to get to put my money where my mouth was.  The first time I participated in one of Ricky's Halloweens, Richard and I weren't married yet and  I had no say in the store bought Harry Potter costume he pranced around the living room showing off.  I have NO idea how to sew, so the next year I supplied my mom with all the supplies and she made Ricky an unbelievably detailed Indian costume.  The whole costume was topped off with a pair of moccasins  and a bow and arrow.  I did it!  My first Halloween with a child and Ricky had a costume worth remarking on.  The next three years I hired a local woman to make Ricky his costumes - Dracula, a pirate, and the Grim Reaper.

Fast forward five years.  On Wednesday, October 22, Matthew's polyester Batman costume arrived in the mail.  He's been wearing it ever since, flying from room to room saving family members from scary bad guys.  I never learned how to work a sewing machine and though I've mastered the hot glue gun, I haven't yet employed it to create the boys a Halloween costume.  

Here's my "aha."  Halloween is not about me.  It's about my boys.  It's my pride, my ego, and my desire to have my kids "ooohd and aaahd" over that makes a homemade costume feel important.  It has nothing to do with them.  Matthew thinks being Batman for Halloween - polyester cape, mask, and all - is the coolest, greatest, most awesome thing EVER. He changes in and out of that costume 4 or 5 times a day, showing it to everyone and practicing his Batman moves.  He thinks his room is Gotham City, Jack is Robin, dad is The Joker, Ricky the Riddler, and I'm Cat Woman (remember this is his imagination at work).  

Here's the point.  There is absolutely no costume that I could work and toil over that would excite Matthew as much as the Batman costume he will be wearing this year.  Imposing my need for a homemade costume on a young child who doesn't value it, just so some third party adults will think I am super mom is... well... selfish.   It says more about my need for affirmation than it does about anything else.

No.  I am not super mom and my children will be wearing store bought Halloween costumes when they go trick or treating this year.  No one will be "ooohing" and "aaahing" over the craftsmanship of their costumes and admiring the devoted woman behind their outfits.  To the rest of the world my boys will look ordinary and their trick or treat buckets will probably be filled with far more Candy Corn than Snickers.  But, Matthew feels as big as Batman... super powers and all.  That's gotta be worth the $28.99 his costume cost.

So today my high, my low, and my aha are intertwined.  My high is watching Matthew fly around the house - cape floating - imagining he is Batman.  My low is letting go of a lifelong belief that homemade costumes are better than store bought costumes.  And, my "aha" is that the selflessness involved in allowing Matthew to have a costume that excites HIM is actually way harder to come by than the selfishness of imposing a costume on Matthew that might make me look good. 

Signing off until tomorrow.  The Bat Mobile just pulled into my kitchen.

P.S.  Peanuts won - 8 votes to 4 votes.  Good luck Melanie and Treye.

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