Thanks to Disney, Halloween is not scary anymore. It's true. Nearly every little girl under the age of 9 turns down the chance to dress as something spooky, like a witch or a ghost or your mother-in-law, and instead chooses to be something cuddly like Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Bell, Rapunzel or one of the other 800 Disney princesses. And, on the off chance she doesn't want to be a princess, she chooses to be Dora, the friendly neighborhood explorer.
When I asked each one of my girls what they wanted to be this year for Halloween, they responded as follows:
Ella: "SNOW WHITE!"
Mia: "BLUB-ER-GUP" (which is 5-month-old speak for "princess")
What a disaster. There's no face paint involved with those costumes. No evil laughs. Nothing that will give you the goose bumps. You're more likely to be scared by a rainbow than you are by my little ladies. I wouldn't be surprised if next year one of them wants to dress up as a hug.
So I made it my mission to add a little bit of scariness to our Halloween festivities by having "The Inaugural Klems Family Scary Mask-Making Night." I made sure to load up on supplies: paper grocery bags large enough to fit over the giant heads of my children, crayons, markers, construction paper, pipe cleaners, bacon (to feast on), paint and anything else around the house that we could find that wouldn't cause their Mom to yell at us.
I waited until a night when my wife was out on the town, likely binge drinking with someone much handsomer than me1 and I went to work. I weaved the supplies throughout the living room floor and pulled the girls in.
"Let's make some scary, scary masks and then surprise Mom when she gets home. WHO'S WITH ME?"
"WE ARE!" they all shouted, except for Mia who farted in agreement.
Without time to spare, I let them get to work. I offered to help with whatever they wanted. I cut out eye-holes. I cut out big scary teeth to tape to the front of the paper bags. But then Ella, my 4-year-old, stopped me.
"Dad, I don't want to put those teeth on my mask."
"OK hun, what do you want me to cut out for you? A giant creepy red tongue? Some brown, dirty teeth? A black-and-blue eyeball that looks like it's getting CHEWED?"
"Can you cut a pretty smile out of this pink construction paper?"
"Well dear, that's not quite what I had in mind when I said we were making … "
"And can you twist these purple and pink pipe cleaners into arms and hands so I can still hug Mommy when I'm wearing the mask?"
Another long pause.
"But your goal isn't to hug Mom when she gets home, it's to scare her."
"Don't worry Dad, we're still going to yell 'BOO!'"
So I turned to my 2-year-old Anna and asked her if she made a scary mask.
"Daddy, my mask is really scary."
"That's GREAT Anna! I'm so excited. Are those red blobs on your mask blood oozing out?"
"No Daddy, those are hearts. And over here I drew a unicorn."
I wanted to shake my head in disgust. These girls were not only soft, but they were waving their softness in my face like a badge of honor. And unless you have a fear of pink or suffer from Unicornaphobia, you will be able to walk through my house without spotting a single scary thing (unless you count my wife's credit card bill that's laying on our coffee table).
Just as I thought the night was a total bust, my wife came home from painting the town red2. My pink, purple and heart-covered monsters quickly put on their masks and hid behind the couch. As my wife walked into the room, they jumped and yelled "BOOOOOO!" and erupted with laughter. I'd like to think my wife was a little scared. She probably was, though it likely had less to do with the masks and more to do with the 10lb diaper I'd neglected to change off my 5-month-old.
Maybe I'll never get the kids to dress like a monster or vampire, but I'll continue to try to get them to be a little scarier. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy my little princesses and explorers and hope that one day I get the chance to punch Disney in the face.
1 OK, this is obviously not true. There's no one handsomer than me.
2 "Painting the town red" is actually a euphemism for "Visiting her sick sister in the hospital." But before you take her side, think about this: She kicks puppies. Hard.
Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)
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