A 4-year-old possesses the amazing ability to be overly excited about something and bored with it at the same time.

Walking down our street on Halloween night, what are usually normal houses were decorated with tombstones, eerie flashing lights, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns and cobwebs. As we approached them, I wondered why our house was just covered with cobwebs. I also wondered if my neighbors put the cobwebs up themselves, or let them occur naturally like ours.

“What’s that?” the 4-year-old asked as we took her to the first house.

“You know what that is. It’s a pumpkin.”

“Oooh. What’s that?”

“It’s a giant bat.”

“Oooh. What’s that?”

“A stick.”

“A stick?” she said, her voice rising to a shriek.

For the record, she’s seen a stick. We have plenty of them, some grown in our own yard and others she’s collected from every corner of town. “Drop the stick. We have sticks at home,” is a common saying, but once we get home the stick has followed us. We find it in the car or the couch or in our bed. It’s like we’re in a horror movie, “The Dark Day of the Stick.”

She picked up the crooked stick and used it as a cane. Great, I guess it went along with her costume.

Dressing small children for Halloween is easy. When her older siblings were little, we outfitted them in Star Trek uniforms, Star Wars costumes and whatever we could get away with while they were too young to know any better. However, once a kid turns 4, that changes.

“I want to be a dinosaur,” she said one day far enough in advance of Halloween her mother and I were sure she’d forget.

“I want to be a dinosaur,” she said again, much closer to show time.

“I’m not buying a dinosaur costume,” her mother said to me out of the corner of her mouth.

Fair enough, she’d only use it once, so we smiled and nodded knowing the only thing a 4-year-old can focus on for more than 20 seconds is interrupting a parent who’s trying to sit on the toilet in peace. She’d forget.

She didn’t.

On Halloween night, she mentally dressed as a dinosaur. And by “mentally dressed” I mean that’s what she thought she was. My wife let her piece together her own costume from our vast bucket-o-play-clothes and what she looked like was a hobo with the fashion sense of a 1980s pop star. Whatever. She was thrilled.

“And what are you?” our neighbors invariably asked whenever she poked their doorbell with her stick.

“A dinosaur,” she’d say. “Grrrrr.”

The neighbor would look at us and we’d smile and nod before taking the girl to the next house.

You’d think on that night a 4-year-old would marvel at the other children dressed as witches, superheroes and ...

“Oh, no,” I said to my wife. “Hide her eyes.”


“There’s a kid dressed as a dinosaur.”

… But no. Halfway down the street, the new had worn off Halloween.

It was a good thing there were dogs and cats to keep her attention or her mother and I wouldn’t have gotten any candy.

– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for a Road Trip,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.