Costume Parade of Horrors – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers

The older my son gets, the more I wish he were a toddler when I used to zip him up in a pumpkin suit as his Halloween costume. For the past three years, my son’s choice of costume has gone from gross to ghastly to downright gory. My son has even been delighting in gory Halloween creativity. And this is a kid who practically screams at the sight of a paper cut (see photo below)!

I’m trying to understand his fascination with everything “gore,” but I’m just not getting it. His friends are not into this gory stuff. It is just not due to his current “issues.” His past two costumes were also disgusting. Could it be he is just a real “boy” and enjoys acting out his gory fantasies on one of the most exciting days of the year for kids? 

Two years ago he wanted to be a “Hell Rider.” Last year it was the “Grim Reaper.” This year it’s a “Skeleton Zombie” (see photo). Thankfully, with the “Hell Rider” costume, the mask and bloody chains felt uncomfortable on my son, so he ended up looking like a “Biker Dude.” At least he ended up looking a little more “toned down.” Last Halloween, the reaper hood bothered him and the plastic reap was cumbersome, so he ditched both for me to hold and he presented more like a “black ghost” or “scary peasant.” Take your pick. Either way, it was better than the original.

This year, with this zombie costume, I am hoping my presumptions will prove true. Based on my son not liking anything covering his head, the disgusting mask will be on for a grand total of five minutes. Then, hoping it will be a warm day (it may get into the 60s as the temps here have been up that high recently), my son will get overheated and need to take off the top of the costume, leaving just the pants on. By then he will look like Frankenstein having a “bad couture day.” 

 What makes this whole situation the most mind boggling is that my son hates candy. All candy. He takes one lick of a lollipop and throws it out. Abhors the taste of chocolate. Yet Halloween is one of his favorite days of the year. Why? The costumes. He loves to dress up. He was Spiderman for three years in a row when he was younger. I could understand him wanting him to feel “invincible” through donning a superhero costume. This gory stuff is a complete mystery to me. But I try to oblige because he loves the day…just not the candy. In fact he comes home and empties his sack into our Halloween candy bowl for us to distribute to others. He simply gets a rise out of pretending he is ultra scary. Or ultra gory. Or ultra…something. Maybe he is acting out the antithesis of his true personality? Who knows, other than a child psychologist.

I just had to sigh the other day when I was at our local craft store, buying some pumpkin carving tools. Three Tween girls were with their Mom, giggling and oozing with excitement as they were trying to find items to create three Barbie Princesses. I listened as they wanted the colors to match perfectly and found accessories that would make their costumes look more authentic. The Mom sounded exasperated. She didn’t have the patience to compare colors and worry about accessorizing etiquette. So while the three girls were running from isle to isle, I slipped over to the Mom and whispered, “Be thankful you have girls who want to wear respectable costumes. My son wants to be a grotesque skeleton zombie. I want to bury my head in the sand.” She smiled and took a deep breath. Then she said, “I guess you are right. I don’t have any boys, so I probably should be thankful. I just have so much else to do today. I can’t spend the whole day here.” I reminded her that her girls were at least wanting to be princesses and not pseudo-hookers. They were joyfully and excitedly choosing the details for their appropriate costumes. And most of all, I reminded her to relish this moment. Once it is gone, you can’t get it back. She took another deep breath and agreed that like my son, her girls were growing up so fast. One minute they are toddlers in a pumpkin suit, and in the blink of an eye, they want to be Barbie Princesses. Or in my case the ghastly Skeleton Zombie. She seemed more relaxed and thanked me as her girls came scurrying back for help with their decision making. I smiled, too and we said goodbye. Then I was quickly reminded of the “zombie from hell” costume. I told myself that at least my son didn’t want to be a drugged-out, overly tatooed, half-naked Rock Star.

Where’s that sand for me to bury my head in?

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  1. 5 Responses to “Costume Parade of Horrors – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers”

  2. He looks so happy, Cara! I’m thinking the over the top costuming with all it’s gore and grossness might be in line with his hyperactivity and processing disorders, or even any possible meds you may have him on to treat them.

    I’m only guessing of course, but the thing I keep coming back to is how when I was a child, I had to take barbiturates for a seizure disorder, and they made me sluggish and slow to respond to normal everyday situations. As a result, I was a thrill seeker. Climbing trees? Check. Deep end of the pool without a life jacket? You betcha. Rollercoasters? Loved ’em. I would do anything, and had no fear of the consequences because extreme situations sped up the world just a little for me for a few moments.

    In the same vein, your son senses the world differently than others, and what you find vile, he finds fantastic. I think as long as you talk with him about the differences in what’s fake and what’s real, it’ll keep him grounded, and he’ll be happy you’re interested, even if, just between you and me, you find it disturbing. ;)

    By Heather Bowles on Oct 24, 2012

  3. Thank you, Heather…He has always been a “thrill seeker,” both off and on meds. It’s his personality. But he knows his limits and will admit when he seeks something beyond his abilities. And we both realize it is fantasy. He is the type of kid who wants me to put an earthworm we found on the sidewalk back into the dirt. And I am always interested in what he does, even if I don’t understand it. I play along.

    Since it is only one day out of a year, I shouldn’t complain. He wears respectable clothing. He just doesn’t want ANYONE touching his hair! But it is his hair. He can do with it what he wants. Oh well…life still goes on…:)

    By Cara Meyers on Oct 24, 2012

  4. Hi Cara,
    Take heart in knowing that my brother went through the same exact stage when he was your son’s age. He had to have the most disgusting, hideous looking mask each year. I think it lasted through middle school. Our family pictures were pretty funny! Just like your son he didn’t love the gore everyday just on Halloween! I think it’s the one day out of the year when you can put on a costume and be somebody completely different. My mom was just like you and allowed him to dress up as these grotesque creatures. My brother is very creative and perhaps this was just another way for him to express his creativity.

    By allison on Oct 25, 2012

  5. Thank you also, Allison! As I said in my post, this is the one time each year my son actually allows the antithesis of his true personality to emerge without judgement. I’m still curious to see how much of this ridiculous costume actually stays on, lol!

    By Cara Meyers on Oct 25, 2012

  6. Great post, Cara! Dressing up in scary costumes for Halloween is what little boys do — and people know this! His macabre choices are in no way a reflection on his “true self” or your parenting skills (which no doubt are wonderful judging by the fact you allow him to exercise all of this creativity). Just remember that since your son doesn’t like candy, every dollar you spend on “gore” is negated by all of the money you save on not having to go to the dentist…and is also an investment in really good stories (and photos) to reminisce about when he is all grown up. Enjoy! :)

    By Laurel Steinberg on Oct 29, 2012