Halloween is important to kids because it encourages a special form of play: role-playing. On October 31, everyone can be anybody they want. An added bonus, however, is the idea of keeping that costume or prop to play with.
I had a great alien costume when I was 10. Big rubber mask, cult-like emerald robes, and a little device with flashing lights and whirring noises. Well, the mask was always good for scaring my brother around corners, and it also made for a great target once I got into Nerf guns and filmmaking. The robes worked for several other costumes later down the road, as well as the inevitable Jedi fantasy.
The important memories come from Halloween weapons, though. You see them every year down that seasonal aisle, and they are always the same. There are machetes, scythes, tridents, ninja weapons, and swords. Oh, the swords. The best ones have scabbards that go on your belts. Kids love katanas, rapiers, and especially broadswords (they favor the imprecise, full-body swings of children). Swords are great around Halloween because they aren’t standard in the toy aisle year-round. Of course, Nerf has changed that recently with their N-Force line of foam-padded melee weapons. They have one-handed swords, double-handed broadswords, and even battle axes and maces.
Guns are great, too. Chances are that the Halloween guns are better than the garden variety gun toys. They make noise or light up, sure. But they also have movement, and realistic looks. Plus the costume provides a neat place to put them. I’m a personal fan of the garter belt gun and holster that can be found in lots of costume shops and party stores around this month. Ever go as a cowboy/girl or a cop for Halloween? The best part is that you get a gun, and a holster. Guns are pretty easy to find, but kids want to play the role properly. A gunslinger cannot shout “Draw!” without a holster. Cops can’t hold their gun and handcuff a perp at the same time.
That reminds me…handcuffs! While they look good hanging from a belt, they live on after the holiday as something neat to mess with. I distinctly remember handcuffing myself to the handle of a sliding-glass door, and trying to retrieve the keys in some creative manner. My mom taught me at a young age to dress as a cop and handcuff my stuffed animals. Here’s a big hint for parents: My brother and I once went as a cop and a crook, and my parents made sure we stayed together by handcuffing us! Brilliant parenting? Perhaps. Slightly cruel? Maybe so. Effective? Absolutely.
I realize that kids have too many devices and high-tech stuff nowadays. Do little girls still play dress-up? If so, Halloween is kind of a no-brainer. Tiaras, faerie wings, Hanna Montana wigs (I do not endorse that last one), or doctor kits and pirate hats. It’s all reusable.
Halloween is a kid day. Remember that, because my girlfriend (psychology major) tells me that role playing is good for child development. Unfortunately, the candy is bad for teeth. You take the good, you take the bad. You take ‘em both and there you have…Halloween.
p.s.- True stuff, I saw a group of girls dressed as the cast of “Facts of Life” one Halloween.
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