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Monday, October 17, 2016

There will always be that puppy costume on Halloween

Damien Fisher
Over the Edge

Why do my kids start planning their Halloween costumes on Nov. 1? Because planning on the ride home after trick-or-treating is obnoxious.

I know we're still a couple of weeks away, but in my house this is the homestretch, after months and months and months of planning. This year we've got Hellboy, and then a bunch of characters from cartoons I don't watch. An Avatar? Is that a thing? Oh, and a ballerina and a puppy. There will always be a puppy. ...

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Why do my kids start planning their Halloween costumes on Nov. 1? Because planning on the ride home after trick-or-treating is obnoxious.

I know we're still a couple of weeks away, but in my house this is the homestretch, after months and months and months of planning. This year we've got Hellboy, and then a bunch of characters from cartoons I don't watch. An Avatar? Is that a thing? Oh, and a ballerina and a puppy. There will always be a puppy.

Halloween is that wonderful night in which children dress up in scary costumes, go door-to-door extorting candy from strangers, and then return home to gorge on sugar and watch movies featuring lots of fake blood. It's basically Bad Kid Christmas.

Seeing as I live in a house with a mess of some really great bad kids, it's a pretty big deal for us. But there is so much that can go wrong. So so so so so wrong.

The key to the whole enterprise is the costume. A kid with a great costume is the king or queen of Halloween. They look good, they feel the adventure of the night, everyone tells them how cool they look. That's the kind of night they will always remember.

A bad costume? A bad costume that you as a parent made? You might as well let the kid go through the legal process of emancipation on Nov. 1, so she can find a family that doesn't just stick a bunch of vinyl flowers on her parka and call it a "flower princess" outfit.

You gotta work with what you got. By that, I mean if you are not a professional makeup artist, or you don't have a 3-D printer, or a fully functioning machine shop in the garage, you really need to set your sights at achievable rather than AMAZING!

Someone wants to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? A new garbage can lid and some spray paint makes a pretty good-looking turtle shell. You don't need to break out the essential oils and craft some mutagenic goo to turn your kiddo into and human/amphibian hybrid.

Make sure it's the costume the child wants, and not the one you always wanted. Sure, we all wanted to be Fonzie. Fonzie's cool. He's got a leather jacket. But your kids have no idea who Fonzie, Chachi or even Potsie are. (Potsie?) And they're better people for that.

If your child wants to be some character from a discontinued Korean manga that you never read because you still aren't entirely sure what a manga is and you resent that, let them! If it makes your kid happy to be that guy who does that thing you don't understand, then make your kid happy.

Also, always call their mangas comic books. It drives them nuts.

On a related note, sometimes they will find a costume that just kind of speaks to them. One of our girls was a bat every year. For years. She was a really cute bat. We also have a daughter who found one of those plushy puppy costumes one summer and never took it off for almost two years. Rain or shine. Brain-melting heat wave or dead of winter, that girl was a puppy. A plushy, sweaty, slightly gamey puppy. It made her Halloween easier, anyway.

Being tasteless is not the same thing as being spooky. It's one thing to see your little boy dressed as a vampire. Cute! It's another thing to see him dressed as, say, Ted Bundy. That tells me his parents failed horribly. Don't be those parents, and don't let your kid be that kid.

Some folks get a little uptight about Halloween. They're the "churchy" types who look down on the whole night as if it were some sort of ticket to that hot awful place: Florida. If you get caught with a group like this, don't fret. Just dress as a Catholic saint!

We got all the gory stories. Try St. Denis, who got his head cut off by some heretics (isn't that always the way) and then picked up his head and walked something like 10 miles while preaching a sermon.

Do that trick with the big coat so that the kid look's like he's holding his own head, and go grab some candy. St. Denis, you earned that Mars bar.

Damien Fisher is a Telegraph staff writer, father of 10 and a man who has been outwitted by his dog on occasion.