Today’s Halloween costume is tomorrow’s therapy session

(Welcome to this week’s Flashback-Flashback-Flashback Sunday! No, that wasn’t an echo, or the remnants of a hangover. You read it right; this week’s post is an extremely rare flashback within a flashback within a flashback. OK, just to clarify, that wasn’t an echo either. It’s just that this week’s post covers three generations of Halloween costume traumas. In short: a Halloween flashback Tri Fecta..! Tri Fecta…! Tri Fecta..!
Ok, that time really WAS an echo…

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...

26 thoughts on “Today’s Halloween costume is tomorrow’s therapy session”

  1. This might be a flashback comment, but the emotional wounds are still fresh, so. . .

    I was horrified the year my daughter was a zombie cheerleader, long before zombies were a thing. Now I’ll bet the zombie cheerleader costume is one of Walmart’s best-sellers.

  2. Love the mummified football player…that rocks. By the way, you can find plenty of materials for a Halloween costume in the Wal-Mart shipping/mailing department. Not sure, though, if that stuff would work for a shroom.

  3. This could not have been more funny even if you tried. You should have a warning on your posts as I was reading this in a bar drinking alone, which is a totally different matter, but still I am oogled by the two guys to my right.

    The scary thing is that I am not sure if they resent me for laughing or actually liking me a bit too much now.

  4. i am a bit dizzy from the triple flashback whirlwind, though not too dizzy to remember when my mother dressed me up as a ‘flapper from the roaring 20s,’ and when i tried to explain it to people i said something like, ‘a lady from the olden times,’ which translated into ‘she’s an old lady, i’ve never seen an old lady like that!,’ and i could not explain my way out of it as i was very shy. still scarred. when in doubt, go with a zombie anything.

      1. I’m thinking I should try that myself. At least you have kids of trick-or-treating age who you can send out to the streets and get your share of candy. But because I have no kids of my own, I’m not supposed to get into trick-or-treating, and I think it’s not fair.

        1. I think if an adult has the gumption to dress up and ask for candy, they should get some. No matter what day it is. In fact, when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door next Sunday, I’m going to give them bite-sized Snickers.

  5. A sarcophagus? Haha! That sounds similar to the costume my dad made my younger brother in the 1970s– he was a giant cardboard Pac-Man covered in foam insulation. He couldn’t see, his arms stuck out helplessly at the sides and there was always the risk of him accidentally inhaling insulation fumes and getting cancer. Still, he soldiered on and trick or treated anyway.

    My kids? My son is a Storm Trooper and my daughter is Ariel, the mermaid princess. They took the easy way out, thank god.

    1. It sounds like your dad and I were made from the same cloth.Or possibly insulation.

      It does my heart good to see that Ariel and Storm Troopers are still alive and well 😉

  6. I’m the scarred mom. I hand-made costumes for years — Hershey’s kisses, M&Ms, Cheetahs, Pumas, even Mr. Potato Head with a multitude of velcro-able facial features. Then there was the elephant, which could not have been more precious. I was scarred when my niece, at 3, refused to go trick or treating in the elephant costume because she’d rather be a princess!

    Kudos to your daughter for having some originality, originality, originality…. (There’s that echo.) Wonder where she gets it?

  7. My dad dressed all of us up as clowns at some point in time… he was one as well… but other than that I really don’t remember much of any outfit I ever wore… though I do now love being a pirate… it’s awesome 😀

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