This year we had a Halloween party/playdate on Saturday for some of our closest friends. And on Halloween night we trick-or-treated our closest family – Nana and Papa, Grammie, Darryl & Gloria, Nan, and Gail & Miles. It’s just the right amount of stops to get us home and in bed on time.
This year Oliver decided he wanted to be a robot for Halloween. So I made him a traditional boxy robot costume, complete with foil-wrapped bowl hat. He helped me decorate it with stickers and I taped glow sticks to it at the last minute.
Did he wear it? No. A vehement no everywhere we went. This is the only picture I have of him in costume and that’s because I bribed him with a chocolate treat. (More on that below).
Emery went as Woody this year, which was Oliver’s costume last year. He played along well of course. (Do you know how hard it was for me to give in to the idea that I wouldn’t have time to make two costumes this year?!)
On Saturday we had a little Halloween party with a few of our close friends. All of the kids looked so cute decked out in their costumes! Notice Oliver was not wearing a costume there either (although he is pretty good at holding Aaliyah!).
Olivia is good at holding Catharine too!
The youngest party attendee. Isn’t she cute in black and orange!
We had a great time at our party and it’s always good to visit with other mommies! I think we’ll make it a yearly tradition.
Now some mommy words about Oliver’s Halloween participation (or lack thereof). I thought I did everything right – he chose what he wanted to be, he tried on the costume a few times before the party, he was excited about it, and he helped me decorate it. I explained to him that he had to have it on when he knocked on doors but that he could take it off after he was given candy.
See, I know he doesn’t adapt well to new situations and I know he doesn’t care for a lot of attention but I did everything I thought I had to to work with his personality and ensure he would still have fun.
So when he threw a fit at Nana and Papa’s house, the first house and where I thought for sure he would be excited to show off his costume, I felt beaten down and defeated. I felt like all that time spent on a costume that wasn’t worn was wasted, when I could have made something new for Emery. I was angry that he was ruining the fun in the first five minutes of the night.
We all calmed down and had supper. Should I have put him in the car, taken him home, and continued trick or treating with Emery? Probably, yes. It seemed really mean at the time so we continued on but he certainly didn’t learn anything by being allowed to act that way and continue trick or treating without his costume. Hindsight.
While we were driving between houses, I asked Oliver why he didn’t want to wear his costume. I knew what the answer would be. He said, “I don’t want everyone to look at me and the sparkly things on the robot costume”. This isn’t the first time he has given me that line, that he didn’t want people to look at him. The first time was a couple of weeks ago when I told him he would have to put a winter hat on. We finally got it on him but he cried the whole way to Jean’s, saying, “Emery, don’t look at me!”.
What is that?! It makes me so sad. As a mother my plan has always been to work really hard to make sure my kids have good self-confidence and self-awareness, but at three years old my child is already showing signs of insecurity. I wish I could hit a rewind button and go back and see what moment, what words, what actions, what situation put that idea into his head and erase it from his mind. I’m sure it’s a phase, like anything at this age, but it’s still very difficult to hear.
When Oliver threw his tantrum at the beginning of the night, I felt this wave of exhaustion come over me and I cried for a minute. And then I wondered why every little thing is so difficult with him – what am I doing wrong to make even the simplest and most fun things such a struggle?? This is just one incident but I feel like we are constantly arguing with him about things as simple as putting his pajamas on, constantly thinking about how to carefully approach things to avoid a meltdown, constantly having to discipline him which leads to meltdowns of a different type. It’s exhausting so when I think I’ve done everything right and the meltdown still happens… well, I feel like all the preamble was a waste, like there isn’t any hope in figuring him out, and, worst of all, like I’ve failed him.
Don’t get me wrong – Oliver isn’t the terror on the block or anything. He really is a nice boy at heart and, along with the bad moments, we have very good times when he is agreeable and helpful and loving. He’s just … “more”. He has intense feelings and reactions, can be incredibly strong-willed, and very adamant when his mind is made up. Figuring out how to deal with that and keep everyone in the house happy is difficult, especially since we share many of those personality traits.
So, even though we ended up enjoying the little visits with our family last night, I am left today feeling a little battered and bruised and wondering what I should have done differently (and what I will do differently) to keep us both sane.
Some day Oliver will read this but all of these hard times will be past. If there is one thing I wish I could tell him now and have him understand, it’s this: Honey, I love you more than you can know. I am doing my best. We will get through this.