The Calvin and Hobbes Long Con Halloween Costume

It was already decided. By November 1, we all knew what our Halloween costumes were going to be for the next year. We were going to do a family themed transformers rescue bot costume set, which involved me constructing four costumes out of cardboard boxes that would actually transform from cars into robots. Luckily I had a whole year to work on this.

Now, I’m not saying that wouldn’t have been awesome. It totally would have been awesome. But I had another longing in my heart. Edward was going to be six this year, the same age as my favorite cartoon character of all time, Calvin. And Calvin happens to have a very tall lanky tiger friend named Hobbes, who is about the height of a grown-up. It would be the perfect costume, at least for me. But how was I going to get my son to choose an out of print comic strip character over the characters from his favorite television show?  Luckily I had a whole year to work on this.

Before we get started, I don’t want anyone to accuse me of trickery or deceit. I especially don’t want Edward to read this years from now, and think that I somehow manipulated him. Because of course I manipulated him. That’s what parents do. We try to get our children to love the things that we love. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. And I never would’ve forced this costume on to him if he wasn’t actually excited about it. It was just my job to get him excited about the idea.

I started off by reading him Calvin and Hobbes in the afternoon when he got home from school. I skipped the ones he might not understand, and only read him the very funniest ones that a five-year-old would love. He really got into it, and so for a while we switched from reading bedtime stories at bedtime, to reading Calvin and Hobbes at bedtime. I think Edward saw a lot of himself in the young boy who generally meant well, but didn’t understand why the world wasn’t more in his favor. All he wanted to do was have fun and try new things. Why were the adults always trying to stop him?!

When I casually suggest a few months ago that we might go as Calvin and Hobbes for Halloween, I was not met with the most extreme enthusiasm. I was informed that we were going to be rescue bots. That was OK. This was not a short game. This was a long con. Little by little I added all of his favorite things to the costume, to make it irresistible to him.  For instance, he loved being Dash two years ago, and a large part of it was because of all the hair gel that he got to use. So I let it slip that Calvin had spiky hair, and would likely require a lot of hair gel. He started to come around to the idea, but he decided that he would rather be Hobbes, and I should be Calvin. And so, the pièce de résistance.

“Hey Edward,” I said as casually as I could, “I was just thinking that Calvin has a little red wagon.” I had his attention. “If you were Calvin for Halloween, we would probably have to get you a little red wagon, and I could pull you around in it.” Boom. Sold. He was full on invested in this costume.

We spent most of the month of October looking for a little red wagon. Because Tenor Dad did not do his research, he was not aware that little red wagons can cost upwards of $200. Tenor Dad had made a huge mistake. I posted on craigslist. I posted in front porch forum. I posted in the new Facebook craigslist thingy. No luck. Nobody had a little red wagon they were trying to get rid of for cheap. We finally ordered one off of Amazon, that didn’t cost $200, but it cost more than I had expected to pay for his Calvin Halloween costume, which otherwise consists of a shirt and hair gel. Oh well.

And as it turns out, we were right. We needed the wagon. I mean, we looked good anyway, don’t get me wrong. But when I posted a photo of the costume contest that we won (oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, we won a costume contest), One of the first comments was, “Cool! I didn’t get it right away, but then I saw the wagon. Calvin and Hobbes!” So we needed the wagon to complete the costume. It wasn’t a scam after all.

My Hobbes costume took a little more effort, but a little less money. I bought an orange sweat suit, and some sticky backed felt, and I cut stripes all over it. I pinned some fuzzy fabric to the tummy, and I cut apart some mouse ears, and pinned them onto the hood. Add a black clown nose and I was mostly done. Although I also attempted to dye my beard white. This was a mistake. I got some hair dying spray paint, that after-the-fact I noticed said not to spray into your face. I took this stuff and sprayed it directly into my face. Then I almost died. The rest I did with white make up.

My stripes aren’t sticking all that well, but I think they will last through trick-or-treating tonight. And Edward dressed as a firefighter for school today, because Calvin doesn’t make a lot of sense without Hobbes, and without his wagon, which we would not allow him to bring to school. But tonight, oh for this one glorious night, my son and I will go out on the town as Calvin and Hobbes, and it was worth every minute of planning. And as an added bonus, he now loves Calvin and Hobbes, and we will share more stories over the years as he grows. And that might be even better than the costume.

Posted in Calvin and Hobbes, Costumes, Edward, Halloween, Parenting.

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