Halloween may be the easiest holiday of the baby and toddler years. You take a hand-me-down from your cousin, shove your kid in it, and off you go. No muss, no fuss, and your kid seriously doesn't care.
If this has been your life so far, congratulations. Excuse us for rousing you out of fantasyland, but it's got to end sometime.
There will come the year when you pull out that well-loved elephant worn by three cousins, and your kid shakes her head. No way.
Sorry, Mom and Dad, but you have just reached the age of "I want to pick my own costume."
Now that you've been warned it will happen, it's time for the real schooling to begin.
Lean in a little closer.
There you go. We have absolutely no idea when it will happen.
Really. My daughter is 5, and I have yet to purchase a Halloween costume thanks to the beauty of cousins who outpace her by three and one years respectively. This year we came close, but a Jessie the Cowgirl costume received gratis when I attended a Disney event for work earlier this year will do nicely -- because I'm not giving her a choice.
She's 5, but I still hold the purse strings. So when the subject of Halloween first came up, I nipped all costume discussion in the bud with "great, you can wear your Jessie costume."
The fact that she adores Jessie and even sports a Jessie backpack and lunch bag helped. I'm not forcing something on her that she hates. But we're getting perilously close to the year I've been dreading.
The year I have to spend some money.
This brush with disaster has taught me a valuable lesson: the sex talk is not the only one you need to be prepared for with your kids. The birds and the bees have nothing on a kid who can't understand why you don't want them dressing like the girl in daddy's magazine or, you know, Katy Perry.
If you can't afford that $150 fireman costume they're begging for, you don't need to be suckered into it by puppy dog eyes. Find something they will like that won't make you remortgage the house.
They're your kids -- you know what they're in to. And with the wonders of the Internet (and secondhand stores), you can usually find an approximation of the real thing.
Are you ready for them to pick their own costume?
Image by Jeanne Sager