This post is not about costumes and candy and trick or treating. It's not about making cookies and decorating and going to parties. It's not about joy and creativity and imagination. Quite the opposite, this post will be depressing and venty and sad.
I often wonder what kind of mother I would have been had I had a neurotypical child. I used to love Halloween. I'd decorate and dress up, go to parties and hand out candy. I envisioned having a child who would love to play imaginary games, dress up and go on adventures. I planned on themed cookie decorating and crafts and pumpkin carving. I thought we'd come up with amazing costumes and have fantastic trick or treating adventures and gorge ourselves on too much candy.
But then autism happened. See, with my particular kid, autism means she doesn't really care about or 'get' the whole idea of the holiday. She doesn't like to dress up, or pretend and she doesn't get much imaginary play yet. She also is pretty shy around new people and rarely speaks to strangers, and never answers questions when asked by people she doesn't know. So really, the whole idea of trick or treating? Nope. Get in a costume? nope. knock on strangers doors? nope. Ask these strangers for candy? nope. Tolerate these strangers looking at her and wanting her to look at them? oh. hell. no.
Ruby did Halloween for a couple of years. Her first one (4 months old) she wore a kitty suit to a party at Ryan's work. Her second (16 months old) she was a cow (only home made costume) but too young to trick or treat). Her third (28 months old) she wore a bee costume to a party but on Halloween was sick and we had twin newborns living with us so we were pretty overwhelmed with that. The next year we were deep in autismland and there was no turning back.
Now, here we are, 5 years old, just the time when most of her peers are LOVING this holiday. Choosing costumes weeks in advance, going to parties, trick or treating the hell out of the neighborhood. They're making craft spiders and face painting, decorating haunted houses and ghost cookies. They team up with all their buddies to roam the streets shouting 'trick or treat!' at every door and laughing all the way back to the sidewalk with their loot.
This year, after some deliberation, I decided to not even buy candy to give out to the neighbor kids. Usually we go through several big bags of the good stuff, and we have oodles of cutie pies that come to the door looking for treats. In past years I've held down the door while Ryan put Ruby to bed. But this year I just decided I couldn't do it. Frankly, I don't want to oooh and ahhhh over your cute kid doing something mine can't yet. I'm sure it makes me a total halloween scrooge, but fuck it, sometimes I get to be selfish, turn off the light and pretend the outside world doesn't exist.
Several of my autism mom friends tell me that someday Ru may get interested. Maybe next year she'll want to don part of a costume and venture out, in search of candy and adventure. Maybe. Who knows. For now, I'm just sad, and angry and bitter at what I'm missing out on. Yes, ME. I don't think Ruby is missing out on anything, cause frankly, she doesn't care. But I know that I am missing out on a pretty fun piece of parenting, and I'm sad.