Pete Gilbert">

“Dad, when can we go to Party City?”

“Dad, when can we go to Party City?”

You see, for the past few years I’ve gotten off pretty easy when it comes to Halloween costumes. I’ve been able to talk my kids into homemade costumes (Bob the Builder), hand me downs (doctor) and a couple of borrowed (pumpkin, spider) costumes. If we still needed a costume, then I would go buy whatever costumes were left (and were the most discounted).

This year I wasn’t going to get so lucky. My kids wanted full participation in choosing their costumes.

For weeks I was asked the same question, “Dad, when can we go to Party City?”

“Daaaaaad, when can we go to Party Cityyyyy?”

Finally, in a Monday morning moment of weakness, I replied, “Friday. Friday after school we will go to Party City.”

Friday seemed so far away at the time.

It wasn’t until we walked through the doors of Party City that I realized what I’d gotten myself into. First we were greeted by a six-foot-tall talking battery-powered witch that scared the bejeesus out of the Blonde Bomber. She was freaked out, while the other two were running ALL OVER the store shouting about how they HAD to HAVE each costume they saw. Somehow, First Born was drawn to the most expensive costumes and Middle Man was all over the place with his decisions, did he want to be a fireman, Captain America, a Ninja Turtle? Or maybe even something else.

For the next 45 minutes we walked around the store, looking at hundreds of costumes and rows of accessories. First Born picked out her costume, but I knew if I just got her something the other two would freak out. On the other hand, if we left empty handed, at least one of them would have a meltdown epic enough to scare that six-foot-tall battery-powered witch.

I wasn’t sure what my next move was going to be, but I didn’t want to spend $50 per child just to get out of the store, which was where we were headed. Things were starting to fall apart, the kids were getting impatient, I was biding my time trying to figure out what my next move was going to be. I just needed to get everyone out of the store, regroup and try again on different day. That’s when I saw the huge mountain of bulk candy. Candy. The perfect distraction to get my kids out of the store. The candy was 15 pieces for a dollar. I told the kids they could each pick out five pieces of candy, and we would make costume decisions later. Amazingly, it worked. After 10 minutes of them carefully choosing their candy pieces, we were done. Out the door for $1.06. Not bad, but still no closer to solving the costume dilemma.

At bedtime that night, Party City was still on the mind of the Blonde Bomber as she was in her room too tired to think straight, but with enough energy to repeatedly yell, “I don’t want to go back to Party City I don’t want to see the scary witch.” Apparently, the battery-powered witch decoration was a bit too much for her to handle.

The next day, the kids woke up asking the question again, “Dad, when can we go to Party City?”

I asked my wife what she thought made sense, budget wise with the kids and costumes. She didn’t care what we spent, she just wanted the kids to stop saying the words Party and CIty.

Since Blonde Bomber was scared of Party City now, I decided I would take the big kids back to get costumes during her nap time. Also, overnight we realized BB had an Elsa dress she’d only worn once because it was itchy but we would use it for her Halloween costume and just get her an accessory to go along with it.

Now I had a plan. Once less costume to buy too. When we arrived, First Born, showing her true characteristics as a first born child, had her costume number written down, went straight to an employee had it retrieved for her, tried it on and was ready in two minutes. My son, on the other hand, needed a little more help. I think he put more thought into what he wanted to be for Halloween, than for any previous decision he’d made in his entire life. Finally a decision was made…Batman. All that was left was an accessory for Elsa. I wasn’t having much luck so I tracked down an employee, “Excuse me sir, I’m looking for the tiara section, my daughter is going to be a princess.” He sent me to the tiara section, then informed me, “Technically these tiaras are for fairies, not princesses, but they should work.”

Lord help me. We chose an appropriate tiara and headed home.

As we arrived home with costumes in hand (Batman, Evil Countess, and a tiara), BB was just waking up from her nap. As she walked down the stairs rubbing her eyes, she uttered the one phrase I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to hear again for another 12 months, “Dad, I’m brave now. When can we go to Party City?”

-Pete

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