Today’s Halloween costume is tomorrow’s therapy session

They may not look traumatized now, but I’m saving up for my children’s therapy sessions anyway — just in case.
It was a conversation that I had been putting off for as long as possible, even though I knew it was my responsibility as a parent to sit down and have “The Talk” with my daughter.

It’s better that it come from me rather than her getting crazy ideas from someone at school, I told myself.

So I sat my daughter down, held my breath for a moment, then and asked:

“What do you want to be for Halloween?”

For some of you, this is an exciting time that allows you to bond with your child by making their Halloween-costume dream come true.

For the rest of us, it’s a time when we cross our fingers and pray that our child’s “Halloween costume dream” is hanging on a rack somewhere at Wal-Mart. Because if it isn’t, we’ll have to make something, and therefore put our child’s emotional health at risk by creating a costume that could potentially scar them for life.

After 36 years, I still remember my mother carefully wrapping me in layer after layer of tissue in order to turn me into a frightening replica of The Mummy — and how it took less than five minutes for a light drizzle to turn me into the considerably LESS frightening Soggy Toilet Paper Man.

Things weren’t much better the following year, when I dressed-up as a pirate and missed-out on all of the good candy after spending 45 minutes with my plastic hook stuck in the car door. By the time I hit the streets, all that was left were Sweet Tarts and half-opened rolls of breath mints.

However, as Count Dracula, I knew it was going to be MY year. Aside from maybe swallowing my own fangs, there wasn’t much that could go wrong. I remember leaping from the porch and sprinting into the night with my long cape flapping behind me. I remember the sound of my polished shoes clattering across the pavement, and the eerie, greenish tinge of my glow-in-the-dark teeth — particularly as they flew out of my mouth after my cape caught on the neighbors’ fence.

Granted, these situations weren’t entirely about design flaw. In fact, I’m willing to accept the small role my own flawed coordination skills might’ve played in all this.

However, that only adds to the pressure of coming up with costumes for my children that are safe, functional and, if necessary, can be used as a stretcher.

My son is still young enough that he has no real plans when it comes to what he wants to be for Halloween, which is fortunate. Not only because it makes my job easier, but also because there’s a good chance he won’t remember freaking out last year after the cardboard robot costume I made him cut off the circulation to his arms, rendering them unresponsive for a full two minutes. This was discovered on our third stop of the night, when he tried to lift up his plastic jack-o-lantern for candy and, instead, fell headfirst through the screen door.

This year, I’m taking no chances; he will be going as a mummified football player, which means he’ll be wearing a helmet, lots of pads, AND be confined to a sarcophagus that we can move from door to door.

This brings me to my daughter, who likes to put her own spin on things. As of right now, she remains undecided. I will tell you that last Halloween, she was a ghost dog; the year before that, a cowgirl-fairy type of thing. So, being that her big fascinations right now are dinosaurs and mushrooms, I am already envisioning a fossilized portobello mushroom.

Not exactly something we’ll find on the rack at Wal-Mart.

I checked.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at the Siuslaw News at

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

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