Matt Knutson: The joys of choosing a Halloween costume

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, October 26, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“I think you should go as a nun for Halloween this year,” I told my very pregnant wife as we looked through costumes for our daughter. She didn’t seem too thrilled with the idea, but there are still a few days left for me to convince her. I haven’t been too interested in the spookiest holiday for several years, but now that Gracelyn is old enough to go trick-or-treating and not yet old enough to really eat candy, I figured it was a perfect time for me to double down on Halloween.

Last year was our first foray into the costume world with a child, so we did the simplest thing — visiting the gently used clothing store for children and finding Winnie the Pooh ready for a new home. The little yellow bear was a hit because any child under the age of one in a costume is adored. It was also nice to reflect back on our childhood memories of Pooh Bear, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl and the rest of the gang. There are some great quotes from the author of Winne the Pooh, one of which was quite moving for us last year.

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“Sometimes,” said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

With another little one due any day now, that message still rings true. Having seen Gracelyn grow so much from being an indifferent Pooh last year to a passionate advocate for her own costume this year demonstrated how transformative 365 days can be for a person, especially someone so young. She’s clearly become her own little person.

That’s not to say we don’t try to guide her into what we want her to be. As we browsed the aisles of costumes, I quickly found the Star Wars section and pitched a family-themed adventure that Sera was quite disinterested in. Then I found a doctor’s costume and began projecting my dreams for Gracelyn onto her unwillingly. As determined as ever, she promptly put the tiny stethoscope back in my hand. Hopefully she’ll change her tune on that one in a few years.

Moana would be the logical choice for our Disney princess, as it’s clearly her favorite movie and my wife is Malayo-Polynesian. This thought proved difficult though, as most Moana costumes are made for children in elementary school or older. Plus, an islander costume in Minnesota’s late October might be too risky. I still remember you, Halloween blizzard of 1991!

Instead, Gracelyn followed her own passion — one that we would have never seen coming. Halloween 2017 is the year of the monkey. We honestly weren’t even sure where she learned about monkeys, but as soon as she saw it, she clung to that costume as if it were a banana. Doubting the decision-making skills of a toddler, Sera kept the tag on just in case she changed her mind. That seems rather unlikely at this point though, as every time we return to the store for additional shopping, our daughter insists on revisiting the monkey costume area and attempts to have us purchase it again. Don’t worry, we’ve thwarted those efforts with distractions of crackers.

While we’re left puzzled as to why a primate was chosen, I’m glad we were able to find something she was so passionate about. While we won’t have any heartwarming quotes to attribute to her costume like we did with Winnie the Pooh, I did find this one from Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.

“People go to the zoo and they like the lion because it’s scary,” Michaels said. “And the bear because it’s intense, but the monkey makes people laugh.”

I think we all could do with a little more laughter, and perhaps that makes Gracelyn smarter than her parents. And between you and me, if she’s smarter than us at this age, maybe there’s hope for my dream of her being a doctor after all.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.