I am, to my very core, a Halloween person. Growing up, starting at the end of every August, my top priority after school was checking the mail for the arrival of the first costume catalogs. My costume planning started on November 1 and was a 364-day process. Trick-or-treating was the very peak of my entire year. My husband grew up in more of a church-sponsored “Fall Festival” costume party household, but enjoyed and looked forward to dressing up nonetheless.
Somehow, through some trickery of DNA, our mutual love of Halloween festivities did not find its way into our son’s blood.
Our kid really, really hates Halloween.
It’s not that it’s too scary. He takes no issue with ghosties and goblins. In fact, his favorite bedtime book is about ghosts. It’s more that he is a kid who loves his daily routines, and he can spot a disruption from a mile away. While downplaying birthdays, Easters, and Christmases does go against my typically very festive nature, for me, skipping Halloween is the hardest pill to swallow.
I can’t blame him. My son struggles with sensory processing, so it makes perfect sense that a day when everyone around him is in disguise, snacks are different, his clothes feel weird, the kids around him are jacked up on sugar and even more unpredictable than usual, and around every corner there is a possibility that someone or something may jump out and say “BOO!” would earn a big “no thanks” from him. But the fact is, there’s no avoiding it.
Here’s how we help make it more palatable for him.
We basically keep the whole concept of Halloween very low-pressure. For costumes, we keep it simple. We figure out how to make a “suggestion” of a costume with every day t-shirts and pants. Last year I took a fabric marker to a yellow polo and voila, he was Charlie Brown.
The year before, I found an Ernie one-piece that felt the same as most of his pajamas and introduced it to him a month early so he had some “practice” before the big day.
We don’t do trick-or-treating. In addition to the sensory nightmare of going door-to-door to strangers’ houses, our little guy also has a laundry list of food allergies to contend with, so not coming home with a bag full of candy he can’t eat doesn’t seem like too much of a loss. Instead we just try to work in a few sneaky little traditions where we can. We’ll send a box of his favorite allergy-friendly cookies to school so the whole class can get a treat he can actually enjoy. We have pizza on Halloween as a nod to my childhood tradition of having Tombstone frozen pizza (get it?) every year. We set out a help-yourself station at our front door to prevent doorbell-induced meltdowns.
Our Halloweens look a little different, and that’s okay!
While I do hope eventually he’ll come around, it’s more important to me that my son feels safe than it is to shove him into a costume for my own satisfaction. I’m happy to adapt to his needs so that we can find little ways to sprinkle in a little memory-making whimsy without traumatizing him.
If you’re like me and have a little Halloween hater on your hands, how have you managed? Are you yourself a Halloween hater with a bunch of trick-or-treat-loving goblins? What does that look like for you?