IMG_5527Yesterday my son brought home a letter stating that they were canceling Halloween at his elementary school. Needless to say, that went over like a brick.

It’s no secret that I love Halloween. It’s no secret that I love my sons. You threaten to take away one, upsetting the other, and it’s no secret that Momma’s gonna snap!

I grew up in a time when political correctness simply meant ‘do unto others’ and tradition trumped oversensitivity. I don’t belong to every religion. I don’t über celebrate every single holiday. And I would never deny anyone else the right to believe, belong or celebrate whatever the hell they want (or don’t want) to either. Even though it’s not really my thing, I would never suggest that we don’t celebrate Christmas at school. But that’s me, crazily being considerate of everyone’s beliefs.

My son Dane was particularly upset by the news. He’s seven, in second grade and in a wheelchair. Last year Halloween was a cold and rainy night. The development we trick-or-treat in is hilly and many homes are on uneven terrain and have difficult front walks, often filled with gravel and multiple steps. He actually asked me to take my other son and leave him behind because he was just too much trouble. He’d been in the school parade and celebrated with his classmates. That was more than enough for him.

I am a photographer and always on hand at my boy’s school functions. My favorite is the Halloween parade. I can see BOTH my boys, all the classes, my friend’s children and classmates and faculty from years past, all smiling and marching proudly through the parking lot waving and screaming “Hi Dane’s Mom! Take my picture!”

I eagerly run home and upload them to Facebook, tagging the moms who can’t be there. They are always so grateful to see the excitement on their children’s faces.

Not this year.

My son Jett is on the autism spectrum. He has EXTREME difficulty socializing. On his 7th birthday we invited his entire class to a pretty amazing shin-dig – the entire class. NO – ONE – CAME – no one. Not one damn kid. His amazingly awesome teacher showed up but Jett was well aware that his class was completely missing. He loves the camaraderie that magically happens on Halloween in the classroom. We go out of our way to make sure he is confident and proud of his costume. He beams when showing his classmates his creations and they respond with genuine care and enthusiasm.

Halloween is a day to pretend to be someone else, maybe even grow into someone else. I think adults tend to forget how much we actually need that.

I understand that principals and administrative staff are in a difficult situation when one parent wants something and another wants something else. I just wish that they had asked for feedback, spoke to the masses, before making these kinds of decisions. If being the squeaky wheel really did just get the oil let the world be on notice that I can squeak even louder. Trust me, every boss I’ve ever had, every guy I’ve ever dated, Montel Williams, the Coast Guard, the Secretary of Defense (another looong story) will gladly back that statement up.

All I’m asking is that the people in power take a look at things from multiple perspectives. Halloween means more to some than others and it certainly means more to this family than I can possibly say. As my incredibly intuitive son so eloquently put it:

“He [the principal] needs to realize that holidays, no matter if it’s Halloween or Christmas, help us celebrate life. We need to remember that we’re all going to die one day – so what we need to seriously appreciate is the memories.”

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