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Last day of school before Halloween midterm is not like any other day

Jen Hogan: On dress-up day your crafting and creative skills are about to go on public display

It is time. Time for the parents of Ireland – okay, it’ll most typically be the mums – to find their safety scissors, pins, crepe paper, multicoloured strips of cardboard, pipe cleaners, sequins, stickers, ribbons, markers, sewing kit, face paints, and other random bits of essential stuff before the most stressful morning of the primary school calendar. Yes, the last day of school before the Halloween midterm is almost upon us.

Because, you see, the last day of school before the Halloween midterm, is not like any other last day of school before a midterm. For it is dress-up day, and your crafting and creative skills are about to go on public display. Not only that, but one false flick of the wrist and Spider-Man can end up looking more like one of the Teletubbies , and your house plunged into catastrophic meltdown before you’ve even had your morning cuppa.

Presuming that is, that you are not one of the unimaginative types who defaults to superheroes and their easy to buy costumes rather than a unique and artistic interpretation of a random household item or YouTube character. Superheroes are for those of us with limited creativity – but have you considered how awkward toilet visits might be for your little one in that convenient ‘I didn’t have to put much thought into it’ onesie.

Well, allow me put that additional worry in your head, if you will, as you rush to get your kids out the door, perfectly made up, to school and yourself to work on time. This is the price to be paid for taking the easy way out.


To the untrained ear it may sound as though I’m complaining about Halloween dress-up day. And I’m not really. Well, not that much. It’s a relatively new phenomenon in my children’s school. After years of little boys enviously watching the children attending the girls’ school next door head excitedly to school in their fabulous creations, it’s a welcome change that they now too can add to their parents’ morning pressure.

But it’s a far cry from the olden days of twentieth-century Ireland, when black bags could double-job as bin liners or any number of costumes – with little additional effort. When the extent of a parent’s costume-creating duties was cutting out holes for a child’s head and arms.

These days, those costumes have to be far more sophisticated. And original. And social media worthy. Has your child even dressed up for the last day of school before the October midterm if you didn’t post a photo on social media or send a picture of them on WhatsApp to some family member or friend or other? The brazen show-offyness of it softened by a “send me on a pic of yours. I’m can’t wait to see them”. Only we know the truth. No one is that bothered with photos of other people’s children dressed up for Halloween – especially when bin bags don’t feature.

“Sure I was too busy trying to get the kids out the door. Photos were the last thing on my mind’ comes my reply.” This from the same woman who kept her children’s umbilical cord stumps, such is her reluctance to forget a single moment of their lives.

It’s a stress comparable only to school cake sale days, where the evening before’s homework is replaced by a jovial instruction to ‘get baking’. Thing is, some of us are missing the baking gene, and we know the end result won’t be pretty. Or possibly even edible. But we do it, because the kids love it.

And after all childhood is short, they tell us. And getting shorter all the time. But if one small, minuscule, positive was to come from the pandemic, it’s perhaps that childhood paused encouraged teenagers to trick and treat a little bit longer.

To mixed reactions it may be said. But if dressing up and calling to houses to trick or treat is the extent of the issue someone has with teenagers on Halloween evening then perhaps, that same someone needs to have a serious word with themselves.

The costume plans grow ever more elaborate here. My costume-making skills probably won’t keep up. There are few school days that cause more excitement here than the last day of school before the October midterm. Onesies are out, as are terrifying costumes that might scare younger children and inflatables, I explain to my troops. Nothing dampens their enthusiasm. Scary is subjective, I realise. My face-painting talents, on the other hand, are not.

Bah Halloweenbug may be my frazzled wail on Friday morning. But I love it really.

I think.