Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love making costumes and I love candy. What more does a person need?
Then this year, my almost-four-year-old son decided he wanted to be Daniel Tiger, the main character on the PBS Kids show that replaced Mr. Rogers. If you know me, you know I hate Daniel Tiger. Sometimes, I actually feel sort of bad because Daniel Tiger is so nice but I just hate him so much. He’s like the guest you don’t want to invite to your party because he annoys you but he really hasn’t done anything that terrible so you feel obligated to include him and of course he shows up EVERY DAMN TIME.
So when my son, Wolfy, said he wanted to dress as Daniel Tiger for Halloween, I just nonchalantly said, “Sure.” But secretly, I was hoping my son would end up changing his mind.
October began and Halloween got closer every day.
I realized that Wolfy was really stuck on this whole Daniel Tiger costume. It was enough to make me want to say, “Grrrrr!” Well, actually it makes me want to say a lot more than that but Daniel Tiger doesn’t even roar because he’s so wimpy nice.
One morning, on the way to pick up Wolfy from preschool, I devised a sort of evil plan. I could try to convince Wolfy to be something that I wanted him to be for Halloween. He could dress up as a train conductor! You see, I like train conductors a lot more than I like Daniel Tiger and the costume would be so easy to pull off since we already had pretty much everything we would need for it. And I don’t mind buying him a little striped conductor hat because doesn’t every kid need one anyway?
As I drove closer to my son’s school, I thought of all the cute pictures I would take of Wolfy in his conductor outfit. And the props would be awesome! He could carry a lantern! It would be so perfect! I started to get really excited about this whole idea.
Wolfy got into the car and as we drove down the road, I proposed my plan to him. I said, “I know you want to be Daniel Tiger for Halloween, but have you ever thought about being a train conductor? Train conductors are so cool! We could dress your baby sister up in a matching outfit. Blah, blah, blah.” At first he was somewhat resistant to the idea of switching his costume. But it wasn’t long before he got on board (pun intended). I thought to myself, ‘Wow, that was a little too easy.’ It was creepy how much influence I had when I actually wanted to use it. Yikes!
And then I realized what I was doing.
I was forcing Wolfy to go along with my idea and this wasn’t about me. It was supposed to be about him.
It really doesn’t matter what I like or what I think is cute. I’ve already had my chance to be a kid and now I need to move over into the role of adult and just support my son with what he likes. Sheesh! I usually think I’m a pretty good mother and then I go and do something like this.
It’s not even like Daniel Tiger goes against any of my major principles. I just find him annoying. He IS annoying. So what? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Wolfy doesn’t find him annoying. Wolfy loves him. And it could be so so so much worse, like if Wolfy liked something that I actually did represent something terrible. Then I would have a real problem. Daniel Tiger is not a real problem.
So, I finally I came to my senses and said, “It sounds like you think being a train conductor is a good idea. But I remember that you also really wanted to be Daniel Tiger. I want you to tell me, which costume is the one you really, really want. I’m okay with either one.”
Wolfy thought for a moment. “I want to be Daniel Tiger!” he exclaimed and I could hear the genuine excitement in his voice.
“Okay,” I said, “I think that’s a really good idea. Thank you for telling me what you really want.” Again. Because I was too stupid and self-centered to respect your choice the first time you made it.
I finally did what I should have done all along.
I threw all of my creative energy into making him the best Daniel Tiger costume that I possibly could. And I made our baby girl another costume so that she could dress as Daniel Tiger’s little sister, Baby Margaret. While I sewed, I didn’t let my feelings about a stupid animated tiger guide me. Instead, I put the feelings that I have for my son into making it. And the costume turned out awesome. It has the right number of stripes on the ears and everything.
And you know what? Wolfy is adorable. He is so freaking cute is unbelievable. He is much cuter than the animated Daniel Tiger. Well, at least I think so anyway. But I’m his mother so I’m definitely not impartial.