I’m not sure when it happened. Not sure if there was an announcement, meetings held, angry letters sent or editorials in the local newspaper. Having a kindergartner and a high school senior it’s not something that would have concerned me very much prior to this year.
Apparently, at some point our school district joined an increasingly large number across the country waging a “War on Halloween.” Citing social, financial, and cultural differences among an increasingly diverse student population, kids everywhere are being denied the opportunity to wear their Halloween costumes to school.
I understand that there are lots of families that choose not to participate in Halloween for religious or cultural reasons. That there are some families that simply can’t afford costumes and that this could cause considerable embarrassment. At the same time, I’m uneasy about the practice of solving these issues simply by banning or cancelling any event that may potentially cause somebody to be momentarily uncomfortable. I also find it odd that in their justification for these actions nobody has ever acknowledged a rationale that would be hard for even the staunchest supporters of Hallowtide to argue against. It’s a huge pain in the ass.
It’s a pain for administrators, those that would have to decide what was considered allowable. Are some masks OK, or are they all off limits? A toy gun is obviously not allowed in school, but what about a lightsaber? Wrist mounted lasers? Is a magic wand always considered a weapon, or only when wielded by a bad witch? Angry phone calls from parents seem inevitable.
It’s a pain for the teachers, already dealing with twenty students per class at our school. I can’t comprehend how they are able to deal with these unruly mobs on a normal day. To have a whole room full of five year olds pretending to be Ice Princesses and Spider-Men for an eight hour period sounds like a nightmare.
It’s a pain for parents, now having to worry about costumes being ruined, or even worse, minds being changed after seeing what the other kids are. It can sometimes take us up to twenty minutes to put on a pair of shoes and a sweatshirt in the morning. I don’t want to have to add fairy wings or any other added accessories to our morning disaster.
They’d argue, but it’s a pain for the kids too. Costumes have come a long way since I was a child, but they are still mostly uncomfortable, ill-fitting, restrictive, and probably best worn for no more than a few hours at a time.
( I’m Spider Man )
Instead I spent three hours Friday afternoon at a “Fall Festival.” Myself and a somewhat surprising number of other parents following our offspring to different classroom for Autumn themed activities. We painted pumpkins, made spider hats out of construction paper and ate orange frosted cupcakes.
I have no idea what higher grades were doing. I’d imagine that this sort of transition would be much easier for kids and families if there isn’t an established expectation for school costume pageants and memories of parades past.
It’s possible that there was no “War for Halloween” in my town’s schools. Perhaps just a gradual changing of fall’s festivities, starting with the younger grades. Maybe somebody stood up at a meeting and explained how much easier this would be for all concerned. There are numerous other opportunities in this and the surrounding communities to dress up in the weeks leading up to Halloween and maybe that made it more palatable. It’s also possible I just need to start paying more attention.