Packing Away the Pumpkins

Last night was Halloween. The seventh Halloween to trick or treat with my son. I remember for the first several years, I had complete control over his costume. A baby monkey, Dobby the House Elf. It wasn’t until he was almost 3 that he had any opinion on the matter. I relished those years, orchestrating our costumes to fit my fantasies of a family Halloween. Even as he began to pick his costume, I still had sway: Super Why, X-Wing Pilot, Hiro, and a Pokemon trainer.

This year the obsession has been Harry Potter, and I am delighted. I have hoped for the day when he would love the world of Hogwarts as much as me since I first saw his blip on the sonogram. Discovering the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling through his eyes is even more magical than reading the books for the first time myself. And ever marching to his own drum, my little man chose Ron Weasley, not the famous Harry, as his hero to emulate. With a robe, a wand and a rat, this Halloween promised to be the best yet.

Halloween usually drapes us in a family theme. My husband and I have been everything from super heroes to Pikachu and Charmander. At first, this year was no different. As Hermione in the flesh, my choice was a given, and one of our Master’s graduation robes would work sufficiently to transform Dad into a Hogwart’s professor. But as planning continued, my son made it quite clear that he wanted us to be the Weasley family. Specifically, he wanted his parents to be Arthur and Molly Weasley. I resisted, partly because I didn’t own anything remotely similar to Molly’s wardrobe and refused to spend a fortune on a costume I would wear once. But in all honesty, I was also questioning and confused by us playing such a large and rambunctious family, when our family is a relatively quiet and calm total of three. Why did he want us to be the Weasley’s? Does he long for a large family with many siblings? After several miscarriages and struggles both pre- and post-partum, my husband and I are content and happy with our small family. But does our decision mean that our son feels he is missing out? Is there a reason he is drawn to the goofy, youngest son of a family of 7 children, when he himself is largely immersed in the adult world of an only child? Or, more likely, am I reading too much into costume planning? Does he simply relish Ron’s sense of humor, and like that he doesn’t have to wear glasses?

Halloween night came, and I still had not committed to a costume. Much too late to plan a Weasley family outing, my husband and I chose comfort over fashion, while our little Ron eagerly raced around the house counting down the minutes until we would meet our friends for trick or treating. At the last second I remembered to pull out his plush pumpkin bag, embroidered with his name, that he has used since his very first candy gathering experience at 10 months old. After a mere six uses, it still looks perfectly new, but is filled with memories of all his past treating adventures. But seeing the bag, my son’s face freezes and then falls, a mixture of hesitation and disappointment. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t need to. I can see in his eyes this bag is too juvenile now, he doesn’t want to carry it when trick or treating with his friends. But he doesn’t want to disappointment me, and so says nothing. Achingly, I place the pumpkin back into storage, pulling out a plastic bucket he acquired somewhere last year. I don’t do the best job of hiding my tears, but we hug and move on. Within minutes he is running down the streets with friends, everything forgotten.

Such a simple thing, growing past a pumpkin. Such a small mark of childhood. But it leaves me reeling. He is growing up too fast, and he is the only. Time is moving and he is growing, and this is it. Each Halloween, each costume, I can’t get that back. I suppose you never can, no matter how many children you costume.  Holidays come and go, our heads buried in the execution of perfect memories. And yet, one day we look up from our plans and the childhood we strove to create is gone, a pumpkin bag packed away in a box of keepsakes.

My son is still young. We have many more Halloween’s to revel in. He started planning next year’s family costumes as soon as his head hit the pillow last night. We will have more trick or treating, more pumpkin carving, more candy highs. We may have packed away a small part of childhood, but so much remains. New adventures await. I know that.

And yet, today a little piece of my heart was packed in a box and placed on a shelf. A piece of childhood filed away, misted in memory. He left for school this morning, holding my hand, hugs, kisses, and ugga muggas. I hold each one in my mind, packing them away. Someday those too will be filed in the past. But not today.