Halloween has always been my favorite holiday — dressing up, hanging out with friends, getting rewarded for light exercise with an insane amount of candy.
When I had my son, Tanner, Halloween was a whole new experience; I loved watching him get immersed in this experience. Trips to the pumpkin patch, picking his costume and planning out our trick-or-treat route. It was amazing to me how his little legs could carry him through streets much longer than mine could carry me.
When we had Annebelle, a whole new Halloween door was opened, with princess costumes and fairies and someone to match costumes with me. I finally get a year where I don’t have to be a prisoner or a race car driver or a fireman.
Annebelle’s first Halloween was like any other kid, she was dressed in the cutest tiny police costume that matched her brother, and she was tucked in snug in her stroller. I don’t even think anyone saw her adorable costume. She was only 6 months old, so her focus was was on sleeping and staying warm.
Her second Halloween was a different story, she was a year and a half and all about social interaction. She looked amazing in her little monkey costume and loved hanging out with Tanner and their friends. We met up with everyone, took pictures of our cute munchkins and set out on our quest to find as much candy as possible. I was so excited for Annie to finally experience Halloween in all its glory, she was older and engaged and ready to take on this holiday full force.
It didn’t take me long to realize that Halloween for a child with a wheelchair and a feeding tube would have its challenges. Her first Halloween was spent in a stroller, but she didn’t care — she was too young to know what was going on and slept through most of our adventure — but this year was different.
We picked our route and got to the first house, which was adorned with a set of front steps. I pushed her wheelchair to the house and struggled up the stairs to get her to the door. There were kids everywhere and we fought through the crowd to get her to the candy bowl, got her loot and headed back to the street to start over. We were being passed by kids and holding back the kids in our group so I decided I would have to work around this, as most houses have a few steps leading to the door. I took her out of her chair and carried her from then on, she was carried up to door with tanner and their friends while I held out her bucket and got her goods for her. It wasn’t the experience I wanted for her, but it was better than her being stuck in the street while everyone else had Halloween fun.
We were with amazing friends who helped her and took turns taking her to the doors and made sure she was included.
When we got home, we sat on the floor, emptied the buckets and looked through everything. Tanner was so excited to claim the mountain of candy before him. While going through Annie’s bucket, we quickly noticed her bucket was full of chocolate and suckers and gummies — everything she couldn’t have. We got through this night of challenges only to be rewarded with a bucket full of candy that she couldn’t eat.
I learned a lot from last year’s Halloween experience. I try my hardest to make sure Annie has a normal childhood, like everyone else, but the truth is she’s different — and that’s OK. I will adapt her Halloween adventure to suit her.