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Heroes in a Half Shell

Mikey was Michelangelo for Halloween. The ninja turtle, not the artist.

The fun started a few weeks ago when we were finally brave enough to commit to the costume. He had been wavering back and forth over what he wanted to be – a ninja turtle, a regular ninja, a doctor – so we didn’t want to lock in the costume too soon, but we also didn’t want to wait too long in case there was a “supply chain issue.”

When he insisted he was sure that he wanted to be Michelangelo we went to the costume store in the mall and paid $39.99 for the outfit. Do you think it came with the nunchucks? No. Those were another $10.

So, $50 later and my 4-year-old had his Halloween costume. The last few weeks had been filled with my husband and I encouraging all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fanfare to keep the enthusiasm up for the costume so he doesn’t change his mind at the last minute. It worked, and if you want to know the words to the TMNT theme song, just let me know.

Anyway, the costume got plenty of wear over the weekends, at trunk-or-treat events, parades and other shenanigans. Then it was the big night.

We are a family that doesn’t do late nights. Don’t get me wrong, it’s often an unacceptable hour before the child is asleep, but in terms of venturing out into the world in the evening, we don’t. We like to start winding down immediately after dinner and just coast into the sunset.

As such, by 5:30 p.m. we were just waiting for it to be dark enough to be acceptable to head out. We spied on the neighbors to see if anyone put out a bowl of candy or turned their porch lights on. When we finally decided it was time, we started dressing Mikey in his costume and the Velcrow on one of the elbow pads just snapped right off. Awesome.

But, being a resilient little guy, he didn’t mind. We were ready to go – sans one elbow pad.

Mikey led the way from house to house and before we knew it, it was pitch black dark. Even though we were right there with him, my husband tried to get Mikey to wear a necklace with blinking lights so he could be seen by cars.

He wasn’t having it. He said Michelangelo doesn’t wear a necklace.

That’s fine, because we had a backup — a glow stick thing that you can also wear around your neck.

Nope. That was “too heavy” on his neck.

“Aha!” my husband cheered as we negotiated with our little ninja turtle on the side of a dark street, just waiting to be hit by a passing car and bickering for all passing neighbors to overhear. “The bucket lights up!”

That’s right! Mikey’s pumpkin candy bucket thing can light up or blink, depending on the setting. Fantastic. With that settled, we were off, again…

Until a little while later when Mikey declared that the candy bucket was too heavy to carry, so one of us had to. At that point, my husband was wearing the blinking necklace and I was wearing the glowstick and also carrying the bucket, and Mikey was nearly invisible.

You know what, it’s fine, I thought. We’ll just hold his hand — drivers certainly can’t miss me and my husband — so we’re safe.

Then it started… “Dada, will you uppy me?”

“No, bud. You’re a big kid. You wanted to come all the way out here to trick-or-treat, so you can walk back.”

“Momma, will you uppy me?”


We let him eat two pieces of candy “for energy,” but that only held him over for about two houses.

We held firm for about 5 minutes, until my husband decided that carrying him would in fact be easier than dragging Mikey and his bucket through the neighborhood. He had Mikey on his shoulders for much of the walk, then on his back, then on his side and, finally, about three houses away, plopped him down and told him he had to walk.

And then the tears started. They continued as we dragged our little ninja turtle the final stretch to our house, up the driveway and inside.

When we got home we found a few more empty wrappers in the bucket than we anticipated, indicating that Mikey snuck a few pieces of candy, and so we cut him off.

We had to wrestle him out of his costume – which was now missing knee pad – and raise our voices to get him to go potty and brush his teeth before bed. As he was in the bathroom, I came around the kitchen island and found my husband raiding Mikey’s candy bucket.

“Anything good?” I asked.

“Lotta Reese’s,” he mumbled around a big bite of something chocolatey.

“Ooh, is that a Take 5?” I asked, reaching over and plucking the candy. Just as I tore into it I heard Mikey behind me. “What’s that?”

“Nothing,” Mike mumbled nervously, his mouth now full of something caramel-y.

“I can hear the crinkles!” Mikey yelled. He meant the wrappers. He could hear us tearing into the wrappers.

My back was still to him so I shoved the exposed candy into my mouth and pivoted my body as Mikey tried to come around me to see what I was doing.

“Hey!” He yelled. You said no more.

“No, we said no more for you!” I said with a mouthful of tacky nugget that wouldn’t let me fully open my mouth. “Momma and Dada didn’t have any yet.”

Spoiler alert: It was a tearful bedtime… and morning.

All in the name of fun.

Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 4-year-old. She can be reached at


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