My Halloween Mommy Fails

Halloween was never a big deal in my family while I was growing up, so I’m having a tough time being a spook-tacular mommy. My attempts in doing a few Halloween activities with the Dumpling didn’t end quite well, but that’s parenthood! You win some and lose some.

I thought the costume just ran small
I bought a Tigger costume for the Dumpling back in September and never took it out of the bag until this weekend. When jigg was trying to put the outfit on our daughter, he called me over because he was unable to button the bottom of her one-sie. I looked at the size on the hanger again, which read 12-18 months. Odd…it should have fit the Dumpling perfectly since she’s on the tiny side.

It was too late to pick up another costume, so we improvised by leaving the bottom flaps unbuttoned and tucking them into a pair of brown tights we found in the Dumpling’s closet. Other than the sleeves looking a bit short, we couldn’t tell that anything was off.

Fast forward to later that night when I was taking off the Dumpling’s clothes for her bath…and saw the tag label that was sewn onto her costume; it read 3-6 months.

I made pumpkin decoration boring
Three days before Halloween, I realized that I needed to put up a pumpkin. I had zero intentions of carving it because de-seeding is too much work. My plan was to stick pom poms on as a mess-free activity.

The problem was that I didn’t have pom poms. After a bit of improvising I made a few dozen by breaking apart a cotton ball and reassembling them into smaller ones. I wrote”BOO” on the pumpkin with a glue stick and asked the Dumpling to help me stick the “pom poms” on. It was a fail-proof in my mind because it really didn’t matter where she aimed; the cotton would only stick to where the glue was applied.

The Dumpling was not impressed; she did one and wanted nothing to do with the pumpkin decoration afterwards.

The Dumpling can’t have her cookie and eat it too
My local bakery sold un-decorated Halloween cookies that came with a “paint palette” the kids can color in themselves. This activity, I assumed, would be a guaranteed hit with the Dumpling because she loves to paint and eat!

Unfortunately the Dumpling thought she was going to paint and eat the cookie at the same time. Waterworks ensued when I explained the sequence of events again, but she assumed I was being the evilest mom in the world: dangle a treat and won’t let her have it.

I had to bribe her with animal crackers before she willingly picked up the paint brush. I guess she got her cookie and ate it too.

My decoration looks almost Christmas-y
I dug out two old “ghost” night lights from Ikea to set the spooky mood. The lights were green and red and way too cute.

Finally a win with the “Cheerios Halloween Play Book”

Grandma saved the day by bringing over a fun Halloween-themed Cheerios Play Book. The premise was to fill any missing graphics with Cheerios. We had a lot of fun finding the missing “O”s, counting, and building up the Dumpling’s Halloween vocabulary words.

Finally there was an activity with instant gratification where the Dumpling can eat and do at the same time.

My Kid Is A Terrible Dresser

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When the Dumpling picked her own clothes.

Several days ago the Dumpling insisted on wearing this monstrosity of an outfit: a red San Francisco 49ers jersey paired with patterned green pants. She ran around the room with only her diaper on, dramatically screaming “No! Nooo! Nooooooo!” to every alternative except for what she picked out.

Before becoming a mom, I always wondered why parents would let their kids out of the house in cringe-worthy ensembles—jarring color combinations, socks with sandals, dresses over pants, epileptic inducing LED-lit apparels…just to name a few examples.

Like many things, I sing a different tune now that I have a small toddler with a big personality.

Whatever fashion aspirations I had for the Dumpling were short lived. At its height, I dreamed of her living up the kiddy fashion hashtags on Instagram where she would wear trendy miniature versions of adult clothes, or we would twin with mommy-and-me dresses. The reality, however, is that children’s apparel is expensive for the number of wears that she would get out of them. It also didn’t help that the Dumpling hates getting dressed, so my bare standard these days is just to get her to wear pants. At 22 months, my daughter already has strong stylistic preferences that she is vocal about. This often translates to her picking out clothes that have clashing combinations or are out of season (she wore Christmas pants all year round).

The Dumpling may refine her taste as she grows, but in the meantime I implemented a strategy to combat her fashion faux pas. I would have a few pre-selected backup pieces for her to choose from in case she rejects my initial offering. This would give her the opportunity to make decisions under a controlled setting. Sometimes she would go with my first choice with minimal resistance; often it’d be a compromise where I picked the top and she picked the bottom; on occasions she would reject both and put something together entirely on her own.

When I picked the outfit.
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When she dressed for both Christmas and Easter at the same time.

Looking back at her old pictures, I realized that the Dumpling rocked whatever she wore. Her big smile and personality outshone even the most mismatched outfits.

If she asks about her choice of clothing in the future, I will just say that she was an accidental hipster.

The Dumpling’s First Public Meltdown

I used to judge other parents so hard when their kids threw tantrums in public. Especially if they did nothing and just let their kids be. In my mind, these parents were neglectful towards disciplining their children and inconsiderate of others around them. I would glare and hope that they could somehow telepathically hear my mental disapproval.

Why do I, an innocent bystander, have to listen to your child’s screams?! Don’t just sit there! Do something…anything to calm your little brat down!

As with many things, my perspective changed after becoming a mom. The Dumpling is now constantly testing her boundaries and has thrown her fair share of tantrums at home. It was only a matter of time before she had one in public.

It happened during out trip to Poconos on July 4th weekend. I was taking a walk by a lake with another mommy friend when the Dumpling woke up prematurely from her nap. She was inconsolable, crying with tears, sweat, and snot all over her face.

I tried my usual strategies of holding her, asking what’s wrong, and diverting her attention to something else.

“Look at the pretty color on this bottle!” I placed her sunblock bottle in the sun, which changes color when exposed to UV light.

“NO!” she screamed while flailing her arms and kicking her feet.

“Do you want to watch Elmo?” I took out my phone, which usually calms her in tough situations.

“NO! WAH! WAH! WAH!”

“Let’s go play in the water!” I pointed to the lake where other kids were playing in.

“NO! NO! NO! WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”

Nothing worked and people began to look. If this episode had occurred at home, I would have walked away at this point and just let her cry it out. Being out in public, I felt peessured to do something…anything to stop this meltdown. I attempted to escape the scene but the Dumpling fought me tooth and nail when I tried strapping her back into the stroller. I was stuck with a howling child that I cannot calm. The more I tried to soothe her, the louder she wailed and swatted me away; it was as if my attention fed into her tantrum.

A woman walked by and commented “Aww, poor girl!” She was more sympathetic than critical. Her comment reminded me that there was an audience, but I realized that I didn’t care what strangers thought anymore.

I stood by my daughter, patted her back, and told her that it’s okay to let it all out. After several more minutes, I turned my attention from her completely and asked my friend to do the same. I started playing with my phone and pretended to walk towards something interesting. The Dumpling’s cry slowly turned into a sniffle, and she eventually reached out her arms. I picked her up and hugged her in relief. We survived her first public meltdown!

Looking back, I now understand why the parents I used to judge did what they did (or rather what they did not do). Sometimes ignoring a tantrum is the best way to deal with it. I get anxious when I’m being watched, so it’s possible that the Dumpling felt the same. I should have just “walked away” like I normally would have done at home after several failed attempts to calm and distract her. My approach shouldn’t have changed because people were watching.

When I told this story to a fellow mommy co-worker, she shared an interesting strategy of how she deals with her son’s outbursts. Whenever he acts up, she and her husband would immediately turn to whomever was affected. For example, if her son hit her, her husband would ask, “Mommy, are you okay? Did that hurt?” This method shifts the focus away from her son and towards how his actions affected others. Eventually he would feel guilty, stop crying, and give his mom a hug.

I have also come to accept that depending on the situation, it’s okay to let the Dumpling cry as long as she’s not endangering herself or others. Crying is normal for a toddler, and it may be only way she knows how to express certain feelings at this age. There are days when I let myself cry to feel better, so I should let my daughter do the same. If there was one thing I learned from watching Inside Out, it’s that repressing “bad” emotions is unhealthy. As the Dumpling matures, we can work on better ways to express them, but censoring would not be the right approach for us.

It’s only a matter of time before the Dumpling’s next meltdown, and strangers will judge me just like I have judged others in the past. If you ever see me ignoring my hysterical daughter in public, please know that this is me trying my best.