M decided to be Medusa this year. A glittery Medusa. Fortunately, my mother is a very talented costume maker and created for her a slinky green, sparkly dress and a headdress covered in sparkly snakes of all colors, with little open mouth, pointy tongues and googly eyes. She was so excited to have a special costume and “grown up” makeup, although she kept having to peek in the mirror to reassure herself she was still herself. As she trick-or-treated, people would exclaim, “Medusa!” and M would reply, “Yes, but I’m not real.”
In previous years, M was terrified of Halloween decorations. Sometimes, even an unhappy looking jack-o-lantern would be enough to make her skip a house. We’d walk up with her, gently coaxing her forward, and she’d shyly murmur, “Trick or treat…” and a hushed thank you. When she was three, she encountered one of my first grade students on the streets, and he gently took her hand and took her around, though he repeatedly had to remove his mask to reassure her he wasn’t really a zombie. She avoided Halloween displays at stores and ducked under the car window if we passed a house with ghosts in the trees.
This year, she decided that a kindergartner shouldn’t be afraid of Halloween. She forced herself to walk down the Halloween aisle at the grocery, covering her eyes with one hand when she passed the masks. She forced herself to go to the Halloween store, at least, into the kids section. She chased kids around at the bus stop with werewolf masks, on the understanding that they wouldn’t chase her back. And for the first time, she fell in love with trick or treating.
She ran up driveways and stairs alone, telling us not to leave, but that she could do it. Her costume glittered wildly in the porch lights. She delighted in ringing doorbells, bouncing up and down in excitement when they opened the door. Her “trick or treat!” and “Thank you!” were boisterous and loud enough to be heard from the street. At one point, she ran across a shy four year old and accompanied her up to the door, assuring her that it was okay and she wouldn’t have to go alone.
I stood down below, talking to my mom about it, and we noticed how tiny she was when she stood in the door frames. She seems so mature sometimes; her topics of conversation; her sly, wicked sense of humor, and her eagerness to learn and explore. Yet it’s hard to remember how small she is. She’s only been on this planet for five years, and what an extraordinary five years it’s been. As this tiny girl came down the walk, her dress throwing off sparkles in the light, I thought about how amazing she is. She’s come so fr, and I can’t wait to see where she’ll go. Part of me was so proud of her, watching her trick or treat by herself with that big smile, and the other part was so grateful when she took my hand and whispered, “There’s a big skeleton doll by the door…will you go with me and ring the bell?”