As I turn off the yard light and shut the front door on another Halloween I find my mind drifting back, recalling how my feelings toward this day have changed throughout the years. Ahhh, Halloween, typically a fun holiday for most families and one of the most favorite days of the year for children, who just love to dress up and indulge their sweet tooth. But as a mom I had come to hate Halloween with each passing year, as my gender variant child came into her own, refusing to wear girl costumes after the age of three.
Halloween is a day when children can allow their creativity to run wild. Finding or creating the perfect costume that transforms them into a favorite storybook character, movie hero or even an inanimate object is second only in excitement to counting and taking inventory of their candy windfall at the end of the evening. It’s also the one day of the year that society relaxes the rules on what it considers to be acceptable gender dress code.
Yes, Halloween is the one day out of the year that society allows gender to go on a bender.
And while society found it acceptable for Sam to wear boy’s costumes, that was no consolation for me. I still wanted my daughter to be like other little girls. I wanted to be proud of the costume she chose (like she was) as we paid the cashier at Target, instead of hoping the clerk would assume it was for a male sibling at home. I wanted to sprinkle pixie dust in her hair and pin pink fairy wings on her back. I wanted her to be cute not handsome. I wanted her to fit in. But what I wanted was not meant to be. Pouring over photos recently of Halloweens gone by, I was amazed at how early she made her preferences known. Perusing the pictures brought back a flood of emotions, as I recalled her costumes and the excuses I felt I needed to make to the mothers of her classmates.
Age 4: Dog
“Sam has ALWAYS been a dog lover,” I explained to the mothers of Tinker Bell, Cinderella and Dorothy from Oz.
Age 5: Harry Potter
“Sam loves Harry Potter…her Dad reads the book to her every night before bed,” I justified to the moms of Mary Poppins, a cute little witch and the butterfly fairy princess with purple tinsel in her wings.
Age 6: Fireman
“Sam has an uncle that is a fireman,” I defended to the parents of Minnie Mouse, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White.
Age 7: Football Player
“Sam watches football every Sunday afternoon with her dad,” I rationalized to the moms of Alice in Wonderland, a cherubic angel and the prima ballerina.
Oh so exhausting and unnecessary. But you could not tell me that at the time. With each passing year Halloween shed more light on who Sam really was, and that revelation wore heavily on my mind until I finally realized that my source of dread was Sam’s well of delight. And then I let go. Let go of the embarrassment I was harboring, the needless excuses and the selfish aspirations for Sam to be someone she was not. From being a dog and Harry Potter to a fireman and a football player, Sam loved the opportunity this day provided her to be more of who she felt like inside. Halloween was truly one of the happiest days of her year. As it turns out, she was just like every other kid after all.