All these photos are from the year before The Dude was diagnosed with PANDAS. He literally had 7-8 costumes and wore them every day throughout the month of October. He loved Halloween and it made me so happy because I love it too!
Halloween is melancholy for me now for a couple of reasons:
- My first real meltdown about PANDAS happened at his daycare Halloween party in 2012. He had loved Halloween SO much and was SO excited to wear his costume but, when we got the party, he just couldn’t put it on. We stood in the corner for over 30 minutes while he cried and tried to put it on, changed his mind, got upset because he wanted to put it on and cried some more. It was totally traumatic for both of us. It also happened to be his birthday and I remember leaving the party and sitting in the car outside of the daycare just weeping because I was so disappointed for him and frustrated with this stupid condition! He didn’t know why I was crying and, once we got out of there, he was happy but I had had such high hopes for that day and was just devastate that it didn’t go as planned. He loved Halloween and costumes so much and PANDAS had ruined that for him. It still happens today sometimes: I forget that his health may not cooperate with my expectations. It’s so hard when you want something to go so perfectly and PANDAS gets in the way. I have to remember that we just have to do the best we can do and play it by ear.
- Halloween can be tough because, with The Dude’s dietary restrictions, Trick or Treating is kind of a let down. He gathers tons of candy but can’t eat any of it. While today we do a ‘trade out’ program (he gathers as much candy as he can we pay him buy the pound for it,) at 4, 5 and 6, he was too young for that to be meaningful. One sweet memory I have about those Halloweens is this:
I was determined that The Dude would have a ‘normal’ Halloween and be able to enjoy Trick or Treating. So, I created a note for all of the neighbors in our circle (about 30 houses) that said, ‘My son has a medical condition and cannot eat regular candy. We’d love for him to still have a great Halloween so I’ve put together this baggy of ‘special’ candy and goodies for you to give him when he comes to your house. He will be dressed as Anakin Skywalker and his name is Spencer. Thank you so much for making this a special night for my little guy!’ Then, I snuck around in the dark after he went to bed on Halloween Eve putting the notes and baggies in all the neighbors mailboxes. They came out in full force! Every house we went to participated and most said, ‘Hey! Are you Spencer? I have something special for you!’ He thought he had won the lottery and I was so touched by everyone’s participation. At 7, he finally told me I didn’t have to plan the candy anymore and that he would be happy to just have money for his loot…but I still smile when I think about how kind our neighbors were and how happy it made The Dude!
This year, it’s taken the purchase of 3 costumes to find one that he will actually wear. That’s pretty typical these days. Not only does PANDAS make him sensitive to particular clothing (and costumes are not usually the most well-made, comfortable garments,) his OCD also makes him very sensitive to the idea that people will notice him. It hasn’t occurred to him yet that, if all 520 kids in his school are wearing costumes, no one is going to notice him in particular! His buddies are coming over tomorrow night to raid the neighborhood…I still enjoy seeing him get excited about going door-to-door with his friends!
Happy Halloween everybody!