Why is Halloween the scariest holiday for dads?

Oct. 21, 2011 at 9:33 AM ET

Courtesy Bob Trott /
NJ Trott attends her first Halloween party dressed as a little witch.

NJ’s first Halloween party was this past weekend, and I think the photo above is all the proof you need that she is the Cutest Witch Ever. (Or, as she dubbed herself after getting a load of that skirt, a “butterfly witch.”) At one point, when she was sitting on a sofa, she leaned over and the top of her dress fell out a bit. “Whoops, good thing she’s not 14 or that would be considered a wardrobe malfunction,” I chuckled to myself.

Then, I froze. One thought bounced around in my head: One day she will be 14 and dressing up for Halloween.

The next day I searched “girls Halloween costumes” online and came away with quite a list of  costumes – nurses, cave women, cheerleaders, policewomen, cats, devils, angels, witches, maids, zombies, vampires, pirates, superheroes. They’re all available for this holiday season, and they’re all SEXY. (Of course, it’s easy to sex up a costume – just assemble a run-of-the-mill policewoman outfit, then remove two-thirds of the fabric.)

I wouldn’t presume to sit here and tell you straight-faced that I haven’t looked at my fair share of skimpy costumes on attractive women. I can still vividly recall a  very hot Little Bo Peep I encountered in college (that was four bazillion years ago, before the sexy-costume trend really caught fire).

That was college, though. Bo Peep was in her early 20s. (I think. I didn’t check her ID.) Somewhere along the line, the costume industry (“Big Costume,” I imagine, like “Big Oil” or “Big Pharma”) decided they could and should sell these adult outfits to kids, too.

More Halloween stories from TODAY Moms:

When are kids too old to trick-or-treat?

Rethinking the Halloween pumpkin

Halloween costumes that are scary, for all the wrong reasons

The Houston Chronicle's “Mom Houston” blog at The Houston Chronicle’s website put together a slide show of “inappropriate” costumes, including several aimed at tweens. My personal favorite, from a “Wow, is that so wrong and extremely horrifying” point of view, is the “Pam Perdbrat teen costume” – it’s a sexy schoolgirl outfit for children WHO ARE ALREADY SCHOOLGIRLS! Sheesh.

Courtesy Bob Trott /
Bob Trott worries about all the inappropriate Halloween costumes his daughter NJ will have to choose from in the future.

Stupid and/or inappropriate clothing for kids isn’t limited to Halloween costumes, of course. I still feel a little ill thinking about the “Does my butt look big in this?” onesie I saw for sale at a gift shop in (you guessed it) Las Vegas. And then there’s the “girls should be pretty and not think” category of outwear, which most recently reared its ignorant head here.

I was involved in something similar myself, back in junior high when I got a shirt with my then-favorite song title (“Excitable Boy” by Warren Zevon) on the front. All was well until I shared some of the lyrics with my mother – who, let’s say, did not share my appreciation of the song’s dark humor and promptly confiscated the shirt for good.

But Halloween is when the inappropriate outfit floodgates open.

Since NJ is a toddler, this dilemma is far off in the future for me, although I certainly don’t mind getting a jump on obsessively worrying about it. I’m already putting together a list of future Halloween costume options for her:

  • Old school ghost (king-sized sheet with eye and mouth holes)
  • A refrigerator (big cardboard box)
  • A robot (cardboard boxes, lots of tin foil)
  • Hazmat cleanup crew member (thick jumpsuit, helmet and mask)
  • Hockey goalie
  • Queen Victoria
  • Mummy (bandages, head to toe)

Any other suggestions? Even this list is probably not workable, because I’m sure some rat-faced marketer is out there right now pitching a “sexy hockey goalie” costume and a “slutty Queen Victoria” outfit and is getting high-fives in the conference room.

Actually, it’ll be easy to handle for a while. “No, you are not dressing up as a sexy dentist. End of discussion!” – seems like that’ll work nicely, in the short term at least. Once NJ is college age, though, I’ll be out of the picture on issues like this. Who am I, after all, to tell the Harvard class president what to wear on Halloween?

I’ll cringe a little if she goes the skimpy costume route. I’m sure Bo Peep was a very nice, smart, funny young woman who by now is a successful lawyer or doctor or state senator with a husband, 2.5 adorable kids and a dog.

But because I was a young lunkhead, the only thing I remember about her is … that costume.

Bob Trott blogs about his adventures in parenting at Dad Solo.