I am considering all this yesterday afternoon at a temporary Halloween shop in a half-vacant outdoor mall near my home. The outfits are way too expensive for their quality. Most of the patrons are last-minute shoppers like me, tired and dazed. There are a few parents here; one father is trying to convince his kid that the cheaper pirate outfit is better than the expensive zombie mask.
I am really dissatisfied with the choices until I find a light blue doctor’s uniform at a reasonable price. However, there are issues with the outfit – the material’s too thin, the propylene has a smell, he might rip it while he’s playing outside …
But I realize that my reasons against the outfit are just excuses; I don’t want to buy it because this outfit will always be a costume for my son and never a reality.
I gently place the outfit back on the rack and stand silently. A wave of sadness envelopes me. Children’s Halloween outfits are sometimes a physical manifestation of a parent’s hopes and dreams; a girl becomes a ballerina for Halloween in the hopes that one day, with the support of her parents, her wish comes true.
Allowing my son to wear a doctor’s outfit is only a costume, not a future wish. I am a realist; I do not see my son’s current progress leading to medical school.
If you know me, you know that when I get sad, it lasts for about five minutes. The little hamster in my head stops crying and slowly gets back on her treadmill. I looked around and thought what he could be; my hamster began to sprint. I purchased suspenders at the store, drove across the mall to a toy shop for plastic toy keys, and walked to the office supply store and purchased a plastic name tag holder, key rings and key tags.
I got home and created from my computer a drawing of a truck with the name of our family’s imaginary company. My son will wear the name tag along with suspenders, a red flannel shirt, denim jeans, and a Shiner Beer hat my husband has had since the seventies.
When I dressed my son this morning and saw him transform from little boy to “Delivery Manager, Baker Beverage Company”, the bit of melancholy I had from yesterday was gone, replaced with happiness. This Halloween, my son is the driver of our beverage company. Next year he will be the assembly line mechanic for “Baker’s Dozen Cupcake Factory”; the next year, he will be a veterinary assistant for “Baker Veterinary Hospital”.
I’m not giving up on my son becoming the best person he can be; maybe he will become a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. But this year’s costume feels more concrete, more accessible. Besides, there are plenty of pretend doctors and vampires out there; how many beverage drivers will you see on the playgrounds today?