- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2003

‘Tis here, Halloween — a child’s favorite holiday. Last year, at barely 6 months old, the Little Viking went dressed as a tiger, and his playful father was dressed as a big-game hunter, complete with pith helmet and leather jacket — very Indiana Jones-like.

At their side was Loke, the 90-pound “hunting dog,” who decided the devil’s horns pinned on his head were beneath him and promptly chewed them up. Oh, well.

At 6 months, the Little Viking was oblivious to tricks or treats, pumpkins, ghoulish decorations and his own outfit, which to him probably was nothing more and nothing less than warm and cozy on a chilly fall night.

The tradition in our neighborhood is to gather in a park, let the children play, get their treats and admire each other’s costumes. Again, the Little Viking couldn’t have cared less. Back in those days, it was all about eating and sleeping.

A year later, not only is the Little Viking aware of his surroundings, but he also knew exactly what costume he wanted. We went to a store with a huge selection of festive Halloween garb: Tigger, Spiderman and Batman, just to name a few.

The Little Viking’s father, who asked a store associate whether there were any adult-size Superman costumes and was terribly disappointed when told “No,” found an Eeyore outfit for our 17-month-old. We pulled it over the Little Viking’s head, and he, as the associate had before him, promptly said “No.”

Maybe this would be harder than we imagined, we thought. The Little Viking might not like the costume selection? Where would we go next? We felt desperation creeping in.

It all became clear, though, in an “Of course, how could we be so stupid?” moment as the Little Viking rushed up to an Elmo costume, complete with bulging eyes and orange nose. Our little guy hugged fluffy Elmo, and as he walked toward the checkout counter, he smiled contentedly. Who knew his best friend would be at the store that day?

It should be made clear that the Little Viking loves anything Elmo: DVDs, stuffed Elmo, plastic Elmo on a plastic train and, most important, Elmo books, the very favorite of which is “Elmo Loves You.” On the last page of the book, Elmo asks the reader, “Can Elmo have a kiss?” and the Little Viking answers by planting his mouth on the book, making a smacking sound.

In short, Elmo is it. We don’t understand it, that annoying voice and all, but maybe it’s not for us to understand.

We also carved a pumpkin, an activity that proved to be fun, but a little on the intricate and time-consuming side for our guy. After the costume episode, however, there was no doubt in our minds what the pumpkin motif should be: Elmo, of course.

First off, we had to get out the guts, the meat and seeds of the pumpkin. The Little Viking helped in his own special way. He used his scraper-scooper to dump into the pumpkin what Daddy had just dumped out.

He also tried eating the seeds (which we thought we would roast until we found out it takes 2 hours) and the pumpkin meat as well as filling his yellow mega-block bus with seeds.

Carving did not seem to interest him at all, which probably was a good thing because the carving set, while supposedly child-friendly, consists of very sharp tools.

Once Daddy had finished carving, which was much harder than we had thought (you see, Elmo’s eyes are really on top of his head, not on his face, and we couldn’t figure out how to do that) we stuck a candle in the pumpkin. We took it outside to get the full effect of the glowing pumpkin against the dark fall sky.

The Little Viking didn’t say “Emmo,” or flash a smile of recognition when he saw the lighted pumpkin. We really can’t blame him because the pumpkin looked more like Mickey Mouse, not a Little Viking favorite, than anything else. Instead, he reached in and tried to grab the candle, which presented an excellent opportunity to practice the word “hot.”

The Little Viking’s curiosity and excitement are great to experience and so different from his lack of interest in anything but food and sleep last year.

If the Halloween costume and pumpkin-carving episodes are any indication, this holiday season should be packed with excitement. He’ll love visiting with relatives at Thanksgiving and mashing potatoes. At Christmas, he’ll be overjoyed with the toy train set we plan to give him.

The Little Viking is showing us firsthand the very big difference between being a baby on Christmas Eve and being a child on Christmas Eve.

Gabriella Boston and her husband welcomed their “Little Viking” in May 2002. Send e-mail to [email protected]

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