It was supposed to be fun. Simple. My three-year old daughter talked about being Marshall from Paw Patrol all summer. Her big brother wanted to be Chase. How cute is that? I was giddy imagining my Paw Patrol crew sitting in a pumpkin patch. Maybe they would even sit still for a picture? And both smile at the same time with their eyes open? Would this finally be the year that I have a Halloween picture worthy of a Facebook post?
Pffffft. Rookie mistake. This is my second time around with a three-ager. I should have known better.
When the costumes hit the stores one month ago, we were the first to arrive. I’ve never shopped for Halloween costumes in September before. After years of scavenging for scraps in sad piles of picked-over costumes at the last minute, it was amazing to go to the rack and see exactly what we wanted in exactly the right size.
The Chase costume was front and center, so I threw it in the cart. When I spotted the Marshall costume IN THE RIGHT SIZE immediately behind it, I gleefully pointed it out to my three-year old daughter. Instead of showering me with gratitude like she should have, this child crossed her arms and scowled at me.
“I DON’T WANNA BE MARSHALL. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”
Um, what? I stared at her. She couldn’t be serious. This kid’s been chattering about being Marshall ALL SUMMER LONG. Not a day went by without her asking, “Mommy, can I be Marshall for Halloween? Can I be Marshall? CAN I BE MARSHALL? I WANNA BE MARSHALL!!! MOMMY, I WANNA BE MARSHALL FOR HALLOWEEN!!!”
Message received. Here’s your freaking Marshall costume, because your Mommy is awesome. So, where’s my thank you? Where’s my “I love you” and “You’re the best Mommy in the world????”
Nothing. There was nothing but an accusing stare. Like I screwed up. I couldn’t help feeling defensive. “But you’ve been talking about being Marshall all summer?”
She shook her head and frowned at me. “No, I haven’t.”
WHAT? Her certainty made me question my sanity. Had I imagined all those painful conversations about being Marshall?
Okay. Time to be practical. We’re at the store with all these choices. Just get her something else. “Then who do you want to be for Halloween?”
She pointed to the Mickey Mouse hat on her head. “I want to wear this.”
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? “You want to be Mickey Mouse?”
“No Mommy. I just want to be me.”
Okay, that’s cute and all, but Marshall was going into the cart in case she changed her mind. Unfortunately, she didn’t agree with my contingency plan. Her face turned red as her high-pitched shrieks hit the ceiling.
“I DON’T WANNA BE MARSHALL!! YOU. CAN’T. MAKE. ME!!!”
Then she burst into tears. People in the aisle gawked at the scene. I wilted under the gaze of a judgmental baby and put the Marshall costume back on the rack. I was obviously a shit parent for wanting to buy my child a costume that she wanted ALL SUMMER LONG. We walked out of the store with one Chase costume and a pile of my shattered pumpkin patch dreams.
Two weeks later, my daughter spotted something else in the costume aisle at the store. “Mommy, look! A MINION! I wanna be a minion! I WANNA BE A MINION! Can I be a minion??? PLEASE???”
It was the first time since Marshall that she expressed interest in something other than “just being me.” I pictured a Minion next to Chase in the pumpkin patch. That would still be cute. There was only one Minion costume left on the rack. It was 3T-4T. Her size. This was obviously meant to be.
I bought it, but she refused to try it on until that weekend. The hat didn’t fit. And what should have been a 3T-4T costume looked like it was two sizes smaller. When I returned it, the store was out of Minion costumes.
Gritting my teeth, I accepted that my daughter would “just be her” for Halloween. Until she shrieked with delight and pointed. “Mommy, I want to be a pumpkin!”
There it was. Once again, at the front of the rack. A big, fluffy, orange pumpkin costume in just the right size.
This child HUGGED the pumpkin costume. She HUGGED it and SQUEEZED it and PETTED the orange fur all the way home like it was her long-lost kitten. And she chattered about being a pumpkin like she was excited about it.
Until today. It’s ten days before Halloween. I asked the kids to try on their costumes. The Chase costume fits my son perfectly. And he’s happy with it.
My three-ager took one look at the pumpkin costume and wrinkled her nose. “Mommy, I don’t want to be a pumpkin. You can’t make me.” She crossed her arms and looked me in the eye. “I WANNA BE MARSHALL. CAN I BE MARSHALL? PLEASE?????”