Last October, during the first week or so, we were still kicking around the whole Halloween costume idea for each of our kids.
For one-year-old Henry, it was going to probably be up to his mom and me to pick him something out. He was too young yet to really grasp the concept. And that was fine with us. Nowadays, there are so many choices available that we knew we'd find something.
But for our daughter, Violet, who was closing in on three, this Halloween would prove to be a massive game-changer.
See, this year, Violet had climbed aboard the Halloween bandwagon. She was, to be perfectly honest, obsessed with it. We'd been decorating the house for weeks and talking to her about how we would be going trick-or-treating and that she would get candy and, best of all, how she would be able to dress up in a costume, or as she had taken to pronouncing the word, a 'cop-suit'.
Her joy and excitement was contagious, and so for the first time since I was a kid myself, I began to look forward to Halloween. A lot.
It was weird, though. I was under the assumption that even though she was giddy about all things black and orange, I guess I was thinking of her in terms of someone who was still a bit too young to be making any big decisions on her own. As parents, my wife and I were so used to helping her out with deciding stuff and navigating the sea of choices that I just sort of assumed we'd be picking out her costume for her at least this one last time.
But, man was I wrong.
One day, mid-October, my wife and kids came home from the store and I heard quick pattering of feet approaching across the hardwood while I was having some lunch in the kitchen.
Violet, I said to myself.
Here she comes.
What I wasn't expecting, though, was the sight of a fairly young Tyrannosaurus Rex.
My jaw dropped out of my mouth.
She was the cutest dinosaur I had ever seen, her vast smile single-handedly destroying that ancient creature's nasty reputation in a matter of moments. My heart fluttered in my chest.
Things had changed forever. In an instant, I could tell by the look on her beaming face that Violet had picked out the outfit herself.
And just like that, I knew that her recent love of all things 'dinosaur' had collided with her new passion for Halloween.
In a matter of seconds, I recognized that my little girl had made up her own mind about what she wanted to dress up as. She had combined her young passions and her wild effervescence to come up with the absolute perfect costume for HER. She didn't need Mom and Dad to do it, after all.
I learned a lot that afternoon.
I learned that, for kids, the joy of Halloween is often found within their own imaginations, as they begin to climb inside them and see what all they can find up there.
And, best of all, I learned that no one knows them better than they know themselves.
Which, when you think about it, is pretty awesome.