But then a few weeks later, we were reading a book about Big Cats and we came across the elusive and mysterious jaguar. The next morning at breakfast, Evan put his head in his hands and said, "Oh, I Just. Don't. Know." It was a school morning, so I said, "I do! You'll have a GREAT day at school today, hon!" "No, no, no," he answered, "I just don't know whether I should be a cheetah or a jaguar. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals on the planet, but jaguars are So Cool. And powerful. And sneaky." I shrugged my shoulders and told him that he had plenty of time to figure it out. Nothing to worry about.
And then we read the rainforest book. "Oh, man. I just REALLY don't know what to be. I mean, cheetahs are fast and jaguars are powerful, but ocelots are aMAYzing! They can jump and climb and THEY LIVE IN TREES." At this point, it was the end of September and I was going to need an answer in the next few weeks so I could draw the appropriate spots on the yellow sweats, but I didn't want to rush him...he was in clear mental anguish over the decision. And so, I assured him that all of the choices were good ones and that he'd make the right choice. Meanwhile, Max was just thrilled to talk about his baby tiger costume and all the trick-or-treating he was going to do.
The first of October came and went and I told Evan that I was going to order the sweatsuit. "So, just to be sure, you want to be a cheetah, a jaguar, or an ocelot, right? So I'm going to order a YELLOW sweatsuit, right? And then you can figure out the spots later?" "Right," he said, "Yellow." The place I was going to order them from was out of stock in yellow in his size, and it's a good thing: A week later, Evan came home from school So Excited about a book he found in his classroom. "And the Most Amazing Thing in the book was about an Amazing Animal. And it's what I want to be for Halloween. A Snow Leopard."
Snow Leopard. So....white sweats? Okay. I let his decision sink in for a few days and then triple-/quadruple-checked before pushing the Submit button on the online order form. But as soon as he saw that creature in the book he knew and he didn't once waiver....and he was just about the cutest snow leopard this planet has ever seen:
And, try not to melt, but here's the baby tiger:
And there was an unexpected benefit to Evan's Costume Choice: It provided a valuable teachable moment in his unofficial Speech Therapy. Last year, Evan's preschool teacher recommended that he be evaluated by a Speech Therapist. He was. She noticed what we all do, that he drops or replaces a lot of initial consonants in words with initial /s/ blends (i.e. smoothie becomes "poothie," small becomes "pall," stop becomes "top," snake becomes "take," and snow becomes "coe") but thought it was largely developmental and did not recommend therapy at this time. We did, however, take the information and realized that it was time that we stopped thinking how adorable it was when Evan requested a Poothie, or referred to Captain Hook's right-hand man as Mr. Pee, and start trying to correct some of his speech errors.
We started by just repeating his mistakes and emphasizing the correct pronunciation. So, for instance, when he would say, "Max! Top!" I would say, "Max, Evan is asking you to please SSSStop." Or when he would say, "Mom, can we make poothies?" I'd say, "Sure, we can make SSSSSmmmmmoothies!" And he'd look at me like I was a little loony and didn't seem to catch my drift. So, we became a little more direct: "Actually, Ev, his name is Mr. SMee, not Mr. Pee." And then he'd say, "I can say it however I want."
And then, the costume. One day a few weeks ago, we were playing outside with the neighbors. Three of us moms were standing together and Evan came over. "Evan!" one of the moms greeted, "What are you going to be for Halloween?" "A coe leopard!" Evan answered enthusiastically, but was met by a brief moment of silence before I stepped in, "A SNow leopard! Yup, he's going to be a snow leopard!" To which the moms oohed and ahhed over his wise decision. I don't know if it was embarrassment that his mom had to step in and speak for him, or maturity....he realized now what I had meant when I had previously tried to explain that if you don't say things correctly, people might not know what you mean. But whatever it was, something clicked that afternoon. "SSSSSS-NNNNNNN-OOOOOO leopard!" he repeated over and over until it became automatic. Since then, when he mispronounces a word, we repeat it with emphasis and he slowly sounds it out until he can say it loudly and proudly. Such a big boy.
***So the boys donned their Wild Animal suits tonight, grabbed their Trick-or-Treat buckets and some umbrellas, and headed out in the cold and the rain to score some loot.
Evan thoughtfully gave some of his Skittles to Grandpop to enjoy "after dinner tomorrow," and Max shed some tears when I finally said, "No more candy tonight, baby." But, overall, it was a Happy Halloween for two of the cutest, SSSSSNNNNNuggliest, Wild Animals ever.
And the best part for Mom: we sorted out the unsafe candy to trade with The Great Pumpkin for toys...which means that ALL of those Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and Kit-Kat bars? They're all mine, baby.