Every parent has dreams for their children, visions and plans for their bright, colorful futures. But we have to face the crushing reality that those plans, inevitably, will one day crumble beneath the march of time and the following words:
“I’d like to pick my Halloween costume this year.”
I had no idea that one of the absolute joys of parenthood, apart from the privilege of raising an awesome human and all those Fitbit steps you earn chasing a squirmy kid around for bedtime, would be coming with something awesome for them to dress up as for trick-or-treating, parties and various other candy-related affairs. It was so much fun to plan my son Brooks’ get-up, coming up with clever pop culture-related costumes, sure to make everyone go “Oh, my goodness! That’s so awesome!”
Of course, none of that had anything to do with what Brooks actually wanted, because he was an adorable tiny canvas on which to paint my own weird sense of humor. But it seems now that we’ve done such a good job at making him a confident little human that he’s developed his own tastes and personality.
Which is great. I guess. But I had a really cute costume picked this year…never mind.
He’s been everything from FrankenSinatra (We put a fedora, vest and pocket square on a Frankenstein’s Monster costume gifted by a family friend) to Prince, complete with a tiny blazer dyed purple and a pencil-thin mustache drawn across his little lip with eyeliner to country star Darius Rucker, featuring a guitar, baseball cap and eyeliner beard, because eyeliner is super versatile. Rucker even re-Tweeted the photo of Brooks I posted. I felt very cool for about 24 hours. Cool rock star moments are few and far between as a parent, so I was thrilled.
I had already started scouting tie-dyed scarf to wrap around Brooks’ head for what was going to be the best tiny Jimi Hendrix costume in the history of Halloween (I was working my way through rock history, you see) when my mom suggested that I ask him what he wanted to be.
“You think he knows what that means?” I asked, knowing the answer but selfishly holding onto the visions of psychedelic pre-schoolers dancing in my head.
“Of course he does,” she answered. “I know you had plans. But you’ve got to let that go.”
And that, my friends, inspired a painful pang, something my friends with older kids described for me - the first realization that your little baby is no longer a baby, but a real person who knows his own mind. And that mind is going to make decisions that have nothing to do with you. It’s the first, tiny step in a process I cannot stop, which is that he’s growing up, and eventually, away from me.
And I’m so proud of him. But ouch.
Of course, you can’t stop time, and you certainly can’t stop a jaunty 4-year-old from picking his own Halloween costume. I mean, you could, but it’s petty and I don’t want that to be a chapter in a “Mommy Dearest”-esque memoir I hope I never give him cause to write.
Which is why, for the last week, Brooks has been running around the house in the Halloween costume of his choice - Optimus Prime from “Transformers,” which isn’t some clever homemade thing but which is comfy, cute and, at least, machine washable. The streak of cool music star costumes has come to an end, which is bittersweet. But this is supposed to be about Brooks, and the things that make him feel creative and cool, not me.
But if he ever changes his mind about Jimi Hendrix, Mama’s got scarves.