We've begun to discuss Halloween costume choices. Yes, I know it is August and we have a few things to get through before the Day of Begging Candy, but somehow the topic has already become a favorite at the dinner table. While neither P nor I consider ourselves to be particularly crafty, we started the tradition of making the boys' costumes even though we don't own (or really know how to use) a sewing machine. We've set the general guidelines: if we can make it with a colored sweatsuit and a hot glue gun (with some fake fur, markers, paint, craft foam)-- we're good to go.
In our own feeble way to fight the big ol' evil corporate machine that markets unabashedly to children trying to turn them into always-wanting-more consumers and fill our homes with a lot of unnecessary plastic crap, we have put the kibosh on items that contain images of any television or movie character. No, Disney Cars' sneakers, no Diego backpacks, no Pirates of the Caribbean themed birthday parties (Who lets their five-year-olds watch those movies anyway?) And I should clarify: we aren't anti-TV. Oh no, we watch TV and have said a few blessings to the gods of DVDs for saving us more than once. We are just against the endless amount of branding and the millions of dollars corporations make off of kids and their tired parents. Yes, I once really liked C's Oscar the Grouch shirt and I point to the non-profit status of Sesame Workshop, but that distinction with Nickelodeon's for-profit rampant imaging of Dora is a bit too confusing for them to grasp. So we just say "No TV or movie characters" and try to stick with it. Every once in a while, a toothbrush with a character may make it into the grocery cart (I wasn't the one shopping for toiletries that day), but we've managed to clothe our boys, feed them, celebrate their birthdays, and even find cool toys for them, without branding for the most part.
I knew my boys actually had absorbed my rantings about this when they spent a weekend with one of my older sisters. She had taken them shopping for a gift for one of her daughter's friends. In this huge store that shall remain nameless, my boys caught a glimpse of a toy aisle and gasped in delight when they saw red and yellow trucks from Word World, a newish PBS show where the animated characters are made up of their letters. For instance, Duck is animated with the letters D-u-c-k. There in Big Box Store, stood two T-r-u-c-k-s and the boys got excited. When my sister, being the good aunt that she is, offered to buy them the trucks for an upcoming birthday. Their reaction, she later relayed to me, was to explain that "Oh no, you can't buy those trucks for us because mom won't like it. She doesn't like to buy anything from TV shows." Of course, she cited the Aunt Rule for them, you know, the one that overrides the Parent Rule, and the T-r-u-c-k-s entered the cart and now have a treasured place in our toy chest.
So back to the costume debate. No TV or movie characters. This extends to Halloween costumes. However, book characters, we can do. Being a huge lover of books and still relishing those special days in elementary school when you got to dress like a favorite book character (Harriet the Spy, Johnny Tremain, Ms. Frizzle, Waldo), of course, it is OK to dress as a book character! And boy, did the twins make really cute Thing One and Thing Twos a few years ago.
S: I really want to be Spiderman this year.
M (for me or mom, whatever works): I'm not sure about that idea.
S: But come on, Mom. You know, Spiderman may be in movies, but he is also a book character-- Comic books! So I can be Spiderman.
Does this mean our Halloweens of dressing as jungle animals are numbered?!