Monday, October 24, 2005

Cows and Elephants and Frogs, Oh My

Halloween is one of those holidays that just reinforces that things just aren't "Normal" in our house.

I dressed Ethan up for first two Halloweens and took him to all of the grandparents' houses. He was dressed first as a cow and then as an elephant. Last year, the boys were dressed in matching frog costumes. Ethan was 2 and a half, and CG was about 6 months old. Two babies. One a little bigger than the other, but developmentally, about the same.

This year things seem different. CG is 18 months. Walking, climbing, running EVERYWHERE. He has obviously surpassed Ethan.

Ethan is almost 4. He's big, like an almost 4-year-old would be. Despite the tendency most kids with CP have to be thin, he is a bit chunky. He's got a little pot belly and big meaty thighs. He somehow jumped quickly from the 3T clothes directly to 5T. He's even more comfortable in the Little Boy Size 5 than he is in the Toddler Size 5.

I have absolutely NO sewing skills, so I stole an hour from my weekend to shop for costumes for them. I went to Old Navy first, where I had gotten a couple of the costumes in the past. They're great. Soft, warm fleece. Easy on and off. Perfect for two boys in diapers.

Of course, waiting until a week before Halloween never leaves you with many choices. They had exactly two options left in Ethan's size: an astronaut and a pumpkin.

I quickly dismissed the idea of Ethan the Astronaut. That seemed ridiculous to me: dressing a mentally retarded four-year-old in an astronaut costume. I know Halloween is a time for make-believe. My cousin's daughter has no chance of growing up to be Buzz Lightyear, her costume of choice. But I can't deny the fact that Ethan will never be an astronaut. Why pretend?

I moved on to a few other stores, but got more discouraged as I looked. The costumes for little boys are things like Ninja, Pirate, Race Car Driver, Cowboy. The packages show pictures of precocious little boys dressed in the costumes. Obviously, they assume your child can stand and walk as they trick-or-treat.

As I shopped, I couldn't help but think - how long should I go on like this? This will be his fourth Halloween. Will I still be dressing him up when he's 7? 10? Should I even bother to dress him up again next year? Or should I be giving up now?

The truth is, I'm not ready to give up Ethan's childhood just yet. I'll probably go back and get the pumpkin costume. It's more his speed than an astronaut or race car driver. He won't mind. He doesn't know that he's dressing up. And as the years go on, he won't know who Santa or the Easter Bunny are.

But soon enough, CG will know. And I know he'll enjoy those regular, typical, childhood traditions. I want to keep them alive, for his sake.

And maybe, probably, for my own.

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