I’ve been trying to get one of the kids to be a robot for Halloween for a longtime. I made Ellie be a robot ballerina when she was 3, which was super cute, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I’m talking old school 1950s sci-fi robot. Cardboard box, dryer vent arms and light-up eyes type of robot. As she got older my influence over her Halloween choices quickly faded. My robot dreams did not. 

There was going to be a Halloween party at school this year and the organizers were encouraging the parents to dress up too. Me and Aya have only worn costumes together twice since we met in college. So we thought, why not? It’ll be fun! The kids will love it. We will be “fun” parents this year. I remember my mom dressing up and thinking it was cool, so for sure, why not. This will be a great idea.

We wanted something easy that didn’t require make-up. But also something that felt like “us.” Something that showcased our personalities in some way. We went through some ideas of couple costumes, but nothing felt right. She really wanted to be Princess Poppy from the Trolls movie, and me, well, no offense to the trolls, but I didn’t feel that dressing up as a troll was my thing. It was perfect for her though. Pink, pink, and more pink, and a hug-o-meter. It made sense. So with her costume decided, I thought, maybe this is the year I can make my robot dreams come true. Why force it on the kids when I can make it for myself!

I made the decision Sunday night, and the Halloween party was on Friday. I also had to sew Ellie’s costume first. She was going to be Kiki from the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service. I couldn’t start building mine until I finished hers on Thursday. I had been building this in my head for years, so all I had to do was put it together. I just needed a cardboard box, spray paint, and some dryer vents. Let’s do this!

I wanted my robot to light-up and play music. I stole some of the lights from Ellie’s robot ballerina costume from a few years ago, and then I got a cheap Bluetooth speaker to connect my phone to. I did a little spray paint, a little glue, made a robot playlist and I was ready! Our plans of being “fun” were falling into place. It was the first time we all were going to wear costumes as a family! It was going to be great! What could go wrong?

Ellie can be an anxious kid sometimes, and she is also very protective of us, especially me. She always has been. When I would volunteer at her pre-school she would stand in front of me blocking the other kids and shout “my dad!” So when the other kids at school flocked around me as a robot it’s no surprise she got upset. Aya being dress up with a giant pink wig did not help either .

“You ruined my night! I was so embarrassed!” she shouted on the way home.

And after I explained that we were just trying to have fun, she said next year we can dress up, “just nothing cool.”

Well, that was unexpected. We really didn’t see that coming. And to be honest, it totally got in my head. Did I really make a spectacle of myself? Was I being a jerk and not thinking of Ellie’s feelings? I had nothing but good intentions and pure joy in my heart when I was putting this together. So, it really did hurt me that she felt so unhappy by my actions. I really had to wade through the grey area to really understand. I know she wasn’t really upset at me. Her anger came from a place of her own discomfort. As she’s growing up her feelings are getting bigger, and sometimes we both have a hard time making sense of them.

I was nervous to wear the costume again on Halloween night. But I did we all had a great time. I passed out candy and both kids enjoyed watching and helping. And we got some great family photos. But next year, maybe we will both just wear black t-shirts that say “this is my costume.”

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