My nephew wants to go trick or treating this year. He is a sensitive and artistic kid. He loves playing make-believe, telling terrible dad jokes, gourmet cooking and, most of all, creating costumes.
A few years ago, he wanted to dress as a fish for a Halloween party. He was still the new kid in school and had just started to make friends. He had created elaborate fins for his head, back and arms out of a translucent rainbow fabric, and he was very proud. His costume was beautiful, but I was worried. Would these new friends really be cool with this costume? I wished he had chosen to be a superhero or a ninja turtle or something. What middle school boy wants to be a rainbow fish in a homemade costume? I had visions of his new friends laughing at him and calling him a fag as we pulled up to the house.
Afterwards he told us that his new friends loved his costume. "They said I was really creative," he told us.
Once I knew that he had found a group of friends who would let him fly his freak flag, I relaxed. I have loved watching him come up with new, outlandish ways to express himself.
This year, he worked on another low-budget, homemade costume. From my sister's house, he pilfered the seat of a chair, tapered candles and decorative twine balls to create an Ant-Man costume.
As soon as she saw it, my niece immediately started giving her brother shit: "What are you even supposed to be? You know you can't go trick-or-treating. You're too old."
I was about to come to his defense when she said, "Dude, you have a mustache. ... No one is going to give you candy."
I realized she was right.
My nephew and his friends will go trick-or-treating if they want to this year. But eventually they will be shamed into staying home. People will open the doors and give them dirty looks, and they will stop wanting to go out. I know that the process of growing up and becoming an adult in the world means that you inevitably shed some of your creativity and whimsy. But for now, I wish time would stop so he could be the weird, creative, wonderful kid he is for just a little longer.
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