We love Halloween. Benjamin has been known to sport some pretty fabulous costumes.
This year we kept it simple because when I asked Benjamin if he wanted to be Harry Potter, he was all smiles and laughter and because John didn’t have a minute to spare to do his Halloween magic.
Where I live, families gather at a local park and trick or treat on a parade route. My house happens to be one of the first stops. I am not exaggerating when I say a tsunami of children flood the streets. It is the most awesome Halloween experience, although it turns the whole giving of candy routine into an Olympic sport. Benjamin and I stood in the driveway with massive amounts of goodies waiting for the parade to begin.
As each wave of princesses, goblins, zombies, superheroes, and inflated dinosaurs approached, Benjamin laughed and vocalized, “Ahhhhh.” Parents talked to him about his costume and we had a good laugh with one family who showed up with Voldermort.
This is the sense of belonging I hoped to find when we decided it was time to leave Brooklyn. Eight years later, I can see how my family has grown and how much I’ve changed. In the middle of the candy give away frenzy, a little boy stood staring at Benjamin. Instead of saying, “Trick or Treat,” he asked, “Is that a real person?” Children say a lot of unfiltered things but eight years ago, despite the innocent, non-malicious nature of the question, I would have been thrown into a candy gorging funk. In the moment I was curious and looked at Benjamin trying to understand why this little boy confused my son with some sort of Halloween prop. Normally, I would have said something like, “This is Benjamin. What’s your name?” But with a growing crowd of little ones filling my driveway, I skipped the teachable moment and simply said, “Yes.”
Later I thought about that moment and the balance I choose to feel at this stage of my life. I was grateful that Benjamin was happier to participate in Halloween than sit alone inside watching Teletubbies. I was glad that so many children, who cautiously approached us, saw Benjamin in all his Halloween glory. I’m grateful they had the opportunity to witness acceptance. Hopefully, the idea of diversity and normality grows wider in their young minds. I believe it will because later that day Sebastian had an experience that showed me this is the case, but that’s a story for another post.
I also grew a new appreciation and understanding for Meagan Nash, the mom who’s son was turned down by a modeling agency because he has special needs. Or Madeline Stuart, the Australian model who has Down syndrome. And for all the advocates and activists who are trying to break the stigma of disability.
One in 6 children are living with one or more lifelong disabilities. Let’s do more to remind the world, they are all real people.