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The stay-at-home dad: Nobody ever wants to be a Ninja Turtle

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| October 31, 2020 1:00 AM

I buy kids Halloween costumes on clearance, most often deep into November. Other parents know what I’m talking about - if you wait a week or two, places like Wal-mart and Target will have the less popular and overstocked costumes on sale for as much as 90 percent off.

Sometimes these “leftovers” aren’t the correct size. Never stops me. I’ll hold onto them for a couple years if necessary.

If a costume normally priced at $30 suddenly costs $3, I’ll also tolerate a few imperfections. Last year I bought a Spider-man costume for my 3-year-old that came with a ripped mask. Oh well. He’ll dress up as Unmasked Spider-Man, or if he wants to wear the mask, he’ll be Battle Damaged Spider-Man.

Despite my intentions, these discount costumes rarely make it to the next Halloween. They’re often pitched as “dress-up” gifts at Christmas, especially if the size won’t match the kid by October.

Their interests shift too. For the past year my 3-year-old demanded all things Spider-Man. Then, two weeks ago, he decided he MUST be Batman on Halloween. I understand the sentiment, but there wasn’t a 90 percent off Batman costume last year!

My oldest daughter often sets the tone of our Halloween costuming each year. She’s fancy and creative and wants to take things to the next level, usually at the time and expense of my wife, who I must say rises to the occasion when she’s tasked with customizing Halloween costumes. My daughter is going as Arthur this year, and so not only does that require a custom job, two of her siblings wanted to match her and go as other “Arthur” characters - Buster and D.W.

When our daughter wanted to be Moana a few years ago, she thought the store costume lacked detail. So my wife went to work on a custom design with real seashells and a straw skirt. She even made her own floral pattern for outfit.

On another year, my daughter wanted to be the Man in the Yellow Hat from “Curious George.” She loved the books and the PBS TV show, and her younger brother, who was only about 18-months-old at the time, already had a monkey costume that could pass for George. Stores don’t carry too many all-yellow hats and children’s clothes, so my wife had to utilize about a gallon of (purportedly non-toxic) dye to make this ensemble happen.

Again, I give my wife huge credit here, because my limited art skills extend to semi-decent drawings of Ninja Turtles, Baby Yoda and a few species of dinosaurs.

By the way, I’ve purchased multiple discounted Ninja Turtle costumes in recent years, all in the hopes that one of my kids would dress up as one on some Halloween. I dressed up as Raphael from Ninja Turtles for five consecutive years as a kid, and my fandom has extended long into adulthood thanks to numerous reboots and its acclaimed recent comic book run.

The kids “like” the Nickelodeon Turtle shows fine, but it’s never been as popular to them as Curious George, Doc McStuffins, Batman, Dora the Explorer, Spider-Man, Barbie or “Minecraft.” When my oldest son was 5, we got him to wear a Ninja Turtle costume for a Halloween-themed family photo. A week later, he decided to be Boring Superman for his pre-school party and for trick-or-treating. Betrayal!

Luckily I own a green T-shirt with a print of a Ninja Turtle torso on the front, so I can always represent the franchise on Halloween. My kids say I should switch up my Halloween costume every year. I tell them to stop disappointing me with their frequent rejection of the world’s best comic book franchise.

What will the 90 percent off costumes be this year? Baby Yoda? Tiger King? Borat? If it’s $3, I’ll be taking a chance on anything.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home parent to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.