AH! The wonderful, amazing memories I have of Halloween as a child. I LOVED trick-or-treating. We would meet up with my family's best-friend-family for trick-or-treating at my beloved Grammy's house. We'd run through her amazingly cool, old neighborhood, lugging back load after load of candy. After we were all done, we'd sit on her blueish/greenish burber carpet and sort, swap, and trade candy. She used to light a really cool fire in her fireplace, complete with pinecones that changed the color of the flames. And she always baked us our favorite cookies to enjoy. Because, you know, candy doesn't quite give enough sugar that night...you need cookies, too. DUH?!
And, the anticipation and excitement leading up to that glorious night. My mom would help me start planning out my costume MONTHS in advance. And, she ALWAYS made them. Always. And, I got to help. One year, I was Minnie Mouse, with white gloves, Mom's white wedding shoes, and a polka-dotted skirt. My fave costume was the princess. She bought a pink dress at a garage sale and sewed silver stars and sequins and ric rac on it. It had a long, flow-y headdress of pink tulle with more silver stars. I thought it was heaven on earth.
Like all idiotic women who have no children, I dreamed that Halloween would be JUST like this with my own children. They'd be excited and enthusiastic about the glorious act of selecting and making a costume, they'd excitedly wear it as many times as they possibly could (hopefully to bed, too, if I was lucky), and they'd run home to share their exploits and candy that night.
Then, I had a child with autism. Nothing really was as I dreamed it would be, not the least of which was Halloween.
For a kid with autism, Halloween is a real pain in the ass. Everything looks different (cool decorations that the rest of us love), people look different (cool costumes that we slave over), and everyone acts different (anticipation that the rest of us burst with as we near the big day). Add into that the sensory and tactile nightmare of costumes, and you've got yourself a REAL treat. ;)
When 4A was 4 years old, I sewed her a beautiful butterfly costume. I got the idea in a magazine, and I sewed wings from a glorious patchwork of fabrics in her favorite colors. 4A has always loved butterflies (they have life-cycles and lots of interesting facts, which, for her, were a breeze and joy to memorize and spout off ad naseum). We've always thought of her as butterfly-esque. A rigid and oppositional and scripted being who emerged from her cocoon (with the help of medicine and behavioral therapy and a host of other supports) into an amazingly glorious soul who is able to be present in her own life. So, this butterfly costume had much more wrapped up in it, you see, than just the fabric and my time. My dreams were in those wings, damn it! All those dreams of Halloweens that I so enjoyed with my mom and Grammy and wanted to relive with my own babies.
I don't have a picture of those beautiful wings to show you. I put them in the fabric recycle. I had to get rid of them at the time because my heart was broken. I know better now, of course, but I did what I had to do then to survive.
That morning, 4 years ago, we were attending a little party at our beloved babysitter's house. I dressed up 4B and 4C, as they giggled with anticipation and excitement, checking themselves out over and over in the mirror. :) When I went to dress 4A, "it" started. She tantrummed, miserably. You see, it was day time, and costumes don't belong in the day because costumes are for trick-or-treat, and trick-or-treat happens at night. It wasn't dark/night that morning, so she couldn't possibly be going trick-or-treating, so she didn't need a costume. You see where I'm going. Never you mind that it was a bonus/extra chance to wear a costume (which most kids LOVE) and that candy was most assuredly involved. It was not dark, damn it, and she was NOT, accordingly, putting that thing on.
When I finally worked through the behavioral plan to get the costume on (I know why I fought this battle, but I really wish, in retrospect, that I could have been on HER agenda and plan and NOT mine), she flipped her shit again. Turns out those beautiful wings were heavy, such that they pulled her shirt back so that the collar of her shirt put pressure on her neck. Disaster.
I finally abandoned ship, sticking to my guns about a costume, but bagging the wings and throwing this together on the fly. Took 4 sheets of paper, a roll of double-sided tape, and about 3 minutes.
Bless her heart, she wore that thing until we got to the party. After we'd entered the party, shown the costume, and taken the obligatory picture, she ripped all those bones off. Without haste, thank you. See how pleased she is to be rid of the damn thing?!
Of course, she let me redo it that night for trick-or-treat. DUH!!! Because costumes are SUPPOSED to be worn at night.
There's much more to the story, of course, but we'll have to wait for another time. You'll excuse me, please, while I run out the door to take 4C to her preschool Halloween party in her sweet bride costume that she's been wearing to the grocery store and to bed, that she helped me make. Turns out, it is what I dreamed of, after all. And, even though it wasn't what I dreamed of the first time around with my first baby, it has absolutely to be the single-best treat of my life.
P.S. Sandbox Learning makes a super cool Halloween social story. Seems that blogger's linkup function is down, so just cut and paste this into your browser. http://sandbox-learning.com/Default.asp?page=52