Halloween doesn’t make much of an impression on kids before the age of two. At 2 years and four-plus months, Jet is at just the right stage to be enthusiastic about the idea of dressing up, showing off a costume, creating jack o’ lanterns and collecting treats. At the age of 61, I find that my ability to have fun sharing these fall traditions has become a pretty good match.
I was worried about the chilly October weather in 1988 when I selected the costume for Jet’s mama to wear for her first real trick-or-treat. At 2 years and 10 months she was completely horrified by her red clown wig, painted face and footed pajamas. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time except that I vaguely remember feeling that it was important to make it myself. Clearly I had no clue what my daughter would find fun. In fact, she’s hated clowns ever since. She would have loved an off-the rack Disney princess dress and she would not have cared if she was one of a dozen Cinderellas.
In early October, I spotted Anna’s dress from Frozen in the middle of Kroger’s and moved toward it as if pulled by an invisible force. I wanted that dress for Jet. “What do you think?” I asked my husband, looking at the price tag.
He smiled at me so hard the corners of his eyes crinkled. “I think that you are probably only going to have one granddaughter to dress up. You don’t want to miss this chance!”
Thus fully enabled to spoil, I bought the dress. She loved it, of course. I braided her hair, put on her new dress shoes and took her to a library Halloween event. She felt beautiful and neither of us worried about the other 3 girls with identical Anna costumes!
The library affair included a puppet show, stories and a costume parade/trick-or-treat for a surprisingly large group of 2-3 year olds. From the moment the Elmo and Grover puppets began to dance, Jet was entranced. When the show ended, she called out loudly to see more of Grover. I flashed back to her mama’s first puppet show when she was exactly the same age.
I was part of the cast that time and took a photo of her from inside the puppet theater. It was too dark to get a photo of Jet, but her expression was nearly identical. I find it amazing and wonderful that live theater of any sort is still more interesting to children than the images on their parent’s smart phones.
I bought Jet a pumpkin at Kroger’s, too. At first sight she pegged it as an enormous tomato. I was enchanted by the thought that she had no idea what we were going to do with it. I didn’t even consider carving up a gourd with Jet’s two-year old mother. That would have been dangerous, not to mention messy. We painted our pumpkins in 1988, but I did most of the painting, creating a credible Bert and Ernie. My daughter liked those pumpkins but I think she would have liked scooping out the seeds and selecting the face herself more.
I put Jet’s pumpkin on the kitchen table and gave her sticky paper cut into triangles.
She applied them to the pumpkin. The eyes pointed out and the nose pointed up. I drew three different mouth shapes and let her pick one. Then I drew it on the pumpkin. We took it to the porch where I’d spread out plenty of plastic and I cut off the top. Jet got right to work, cleaning out the seeds.
She didn’t care for the slimy feel on her bare hands, so she asked for a spoon. When she had removed all that she could, I scraped the insides a little more and she watched me cut out the eyes, nose and mouth. We were both impressed when the battery-powered candle flickered inside and she added the lid.
“MY pumpkin!” she said. “I take it home!”
Addendum: Jet was adorable at her Aunt Mary’s “Trunk or Treat” tonight. The college students were delighted to give her candy. She watched them put piece after piece in her bucket. Each time, her mama encouraged her to say “thank you,” but her big blue eyes remained bewildered. In the car on the way home we learned why she was so confused. “They put biscuits in my pail!” she announced.
Poor baby! She’s never eaten candy. She didn’t recognize what they were putting in her pail, but everyone kept saying “Trick or Treat” to her. Jet does know about treats: those are biscuits you give your dog!!