I've always had a basic guideline for halloween costumes: they cannot be scary, and I prefer that they are teammates or partners of some kind.
When they were super small, I wanted them to be ketchup and mustard. But their dad gave that a big fat kybosh, for which I'm pretty sure they will forever thank him.
They were a horse and a cow. They both said moo.
They were Batman and Robin.
They were Power Rangers, blue and green.
They were Mario and Luigi.
Most years, we were able to pull it off. (One year they were a dragon and Superman. A stretch for partners in crime, but it worked.) And I was pretty much delusional that I could maintain that standard for the rest of their childhood years.
This year, it all came to a halt. They want blood and gore.
I don't do blood and gore. I barely do Halloween, if not for the candy and harvest decor. I'll give my stamp of "no thanks" to spider webs, witches, giant spiders, tombstones, graveyards and all things pro-death or post-death and intentionally scary.
I took the approach my mom used to take with me when we bought my gowns for homecoming dances, winter formals, and proms: Let's go shopping together. I have to approve your dress before we buy it, but I promise you won't go to this dance in a dress you hate. We'll find what works for both of us.
Transfer that approach to Halloween costumes, and picture us at Party City yesterday. We entered with this guideline: no blood, no weapons. Otherwise, it's up to you.
Except no, I don't want you to be the Grim Reaper.
Or the masked murderer from Scream.
What about Woody and Buzz? (Not happening.)
I voted for the hot dog and the carton of milk. (A no-go.)
How about Angry Birds? (They looked at me like I intended to dress them like Toddlers in Tiaras.)
Ew. Nothing with snakes.
And, holy cow, nothing with fishnet stockings.
We strolled the aisles, and I discovered that my path to acceptabilities is narrow, the gate is small. I might need to ease up on some of these rules.
"I want to be a vampire."
"And I want to be a werewolf."
They looked at me with indignance. The face that says, "I've made my decision, and as firmly as you see my foot on this linoleum tile, such is my resolve that I will dress how I choose for Halloween."
"Well, if you guys can find a vampire costume and a werewolf costume - with no blood and no weapons - then we're good."
They searched the world over and found just what they wanted. For Tucker, it's about the fur and the mask. For Tyler, it's about the cape. Score and Score.
On Halloween night, I'll make the rounds with the friendly werewolf who simply howls at the moon, and the vampire who uses his sharp fangs to open cans of soda.