The Delicate Decisions and the Damage Done

Before Breakfast:
“I think I’m going to be Luke Skywalker for Halloween, because Luke has a green lightsaber and I got a green lightsaber for my birthday.”
“Makes sense.  Let’s do it.”

En Route to School:
“You know, I saw that you put my Lightning McQueen costume in the bag to give away, but I think I should try it on, because I might like to be Lightning McQueen for Halloween.”
“You were Lightning McQueen the past two years, Bud.  Don’t you think you want to mix it up?”
“Well, I was going to change my mind and be Luke Skywalker but we already have the costume so I think I should wear what I already have.”
“That’s very conscientious of you.  Okay.”

After School:
“You know, Mommy, I was thinking today that I’d really like to wear a mask on Halloween and Lightning McQueen doesn’t wear a mask so I shouldn’t be Lightning McQueen but I could be Yoda, because I need a mask for Yoda.”
“Does that mean I can give away the Lightning McQueen costume after all?”
“Yeah, yeah.  You can give it away.  But keep the hat.  The hat still fits.”

(I am not keeping the hat.)

At Dinner:
“Daddy, I was telling Mommy in the car that I want to be a skeleton for Halloween.”
“Wait, no, you told me you wanted to be Yoda.”
“Oh, yeah, but then I saw a commercial for a skeleton costume during LEGO Chima this afternoon and it was so creepy and I think that will be great for Halloween.”
“Skeleton.  Check.”
“Actually, I think Luke Skywalker.”

Last Sunday, I finally got around to printing the photos from Halloween 2012.  It’s so cliche: when LittleMan was a baby, I would get pictures printed about once a week, pass them out to family, mix up the fridge collage, clutter my office bulletin board.  Now, I get pictures printed (when we even remember to take them, so distracted are we by the parenting aspect of the gig) about once a year, and then they stack up on the kitchen counter in giant envelopes, waiting to be placed in albums (and by waiting, I mean, like, years).  Even I didn’t realize how bad it was until we were doing some end-of-summer cleaning and I noticed that we haven’t framed a photograph of Babygirl since before her first birthday.  Ooooooh.  Someday she will throw this back at me.

As discussed, last year LittleMan was Lightning McQueen, and because I don’t believe in dressing little babies in fussy clothes, Babygirl wore soft black pants with white stars, and a soft orange onesie with black stars, and a Jack o’ Lantern pacifier in her mouth.  Which was actually super-creepy, now that I think back on it.  This year, Babygirl purports to want to be Chewbacca, which I am considering purely for the photo (a photo that I may or may not remember to take, and will not get printed until 2014).  LittleMan would like her to be a ballerina, which I am considering purely because it’s easy: tutu, t-shirt, tights, done.  (You will recall that I am — unapologetically — not the most craftsy of mothers.)

Oh, but is it easy?  Can anything be that simple?  After all, Babygirl has lately been insisting that she, too, is a brother (“I notta sister.  Imma boy, mommy.”).  If the little pixie wants to dress like a 7-foot-tall Wookie, shouldn’t I at least let her explore that?

To cave into gender norms, or defy them?

These are the questions we modern moms must quietly obsess over.  Chewbacca or ballerina?  Han Solo or Princess Leia?  Do I play into the Disney Princess culture or rage against it?  And what does it say about me that I have never once looked at my son’s obsession with Cars as a problem, but I worry that exposing Babygirl to The Little Mermaid will shape her gender identity and body image for years to come?

Oh, God, we’re a mess, aren’t we?

This is probably the part where my mom would point out that I played with Barbies and tried to sing like Ariel for pretty much my entire childhood and turned out (reasonably) intact.  The body-image issues I struggle with (a conversation for another day, certainly) are far too complex to be blamed on genetically-improbable animated heroines.

So with all this on my mind and a full hamper of clean laundry glaring at me from across the room, demanding to be folded, I turned on the computer and searched Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca costumes.  And let me just say: this Halloween costume thing is a RACKET.  Every option is basically a highly-flammable polyester jumpsuit with graphics, priced far beyond its actual value.  Unless you count the value of a happy boy in a Luke Skywalker getup, which is, of course, priceless.  This is how they get you.

The value of a mercurial two-year-old overheating in an itchy, faux-shag Wookie costume, on the other hand?  Throw in the potty training and the inevitability of a mishap and the decision was made for me: tutu, t-shirt, tights.

Plus an extra pair of tights.


There.  That was easy.


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