Editor's note: This post uses pseudonyms to protect the identities of minors.
My family lives in a very conservative area, and we aren't exactly walking into open arms in our community when we go trick-or-treating. This is the second year our son has worn a dress on Halloween. Last year he went as Minnie Mouse:
Twirl as Minnie Mouse, Firecracker as a dragon and Tornado as an octopus
When Twirl declared that he wanted to be Minnie Mouse for Halloween, it wasn't a surprise. He had been obsessed with her for a while. We ordered the costume, and I wish I had been filming when that sucker came in the mail: I'm not sure whether I'd ever seen a happier boy. I admit I was nervous. I hadn't really thought about it when we ordered it, but when we left our house to go trick-or-treating, my stomach was uneasy. We told Twirl that some people might just think he was a girl and that that was OK, and that he could correct them if he wanted to -- or not. I wanted to go into an hour-long speech on how wonderful and perfect he is and how he should not pay attention to anything hurtful anyone may say, but I am also careful to not overdo it or make it a big deal. I think maybe two or three people thought he was a girl, and he did correct them, and it was no big deal. We got some weird side looks, but thankfully no one said anything to him or to us in a negative tone. I will point out that Firecracker was dressed as a dragon, but there was no worry about her being in a more boy-typical costume, and no one said a word. That is our society.
Fast-forward to this year. Twirl said he wanted to be a fairy. His favorite is the Disney fairy Rosetta; she wears pink, after all. We went to look at the costumes, and when we held up the Rosetta costume... well, the skirt was really short! Twirl was on the tall end of the size, and I found myself saying something I would have said were it my daughter Firecracker: "That skirt is just too short. We need to find something longer." This still makes me laugh, but seriously, it was really short. So he decided on Silvermist, the blue fairy who has a longer, blue dress with a little purple in it. I knew he didn't have any shoes to wear with it, and his pink Converses weren't exactly going to complement that outfit, so we went to the shoe section, and he picked some glittery, purple Mary Janes. He was so excited to try them on, and they are without a doubt his favorite part of the costume.
It was colder on Halloween this year, so as we started to get ready, I told Twirl that he would need to wear some of Firecracker's tights and leggings. "I don't want to!" he replied. "People will laugh at me for wearing girl tights." I was thrown a bit by this, because I am not sure why he thought they would notice the tights before they noticed the fairy dress that he didn't seem hesitant to wear. I told him that just like any other time, people may ask questions and may laugh, but they're wrong, not him. I asked him if he would be happier going as something else or if he would rather take his chances. He smiled and grabbed the tights.
We set out, and everything was going great. I found myself a lot less nervous this year. One kid who was handing out candy told each of our kids that he liked their costumes. I loved that they were all treated the same. About 12 houses in, an older man answered the door, started handing out candy and said to me and my husband Cory, laughing, "I'm not even going to ask about that." Twirl had already received his candy and was walking past me by the time the words were out of the man's mouth. I was instantly angry. Cory and I just looked at each other and carried on; Twirl and Firecracker were on a mission, and were already near the next house. The rest of the night went smoothly; the kids had a great time, and so did we. We saw a few people we knew, and they remarked on how cute all the kids' costumes were. Later that night I asked Cory what he thought about that man's comment, and he remarked that although it was not a good way to put things, he was likely just pointing out the uniqueness of the situation. This might be true, or it might not be true. He may be a jerk, or maybe he isn't. But I do like Cory's way of not blowing up the situation. My instinct is to pounce, and I am learning that that is not always necessary. I don't really care what that man thinks; I just wanted to have a good Halloween night. And thanks to cooler heads, that's exactly what we had.
All in all, our Halloween experiences have been great. I know that as Twirl gets older, it might become a bit more challenging, but I will worry about that when the time comes. My biggest worry is the same as C.J.'s mom, who so eloquently wrote, "I don't want my boy to want a boy costume." I don't want my son to want a boy costume just because he is afraid to be himself. If he truly wants the boy costume, no big deal, but if he is doing it our of fear or shame, then that will be a problem.