#2. This Robot Costume
I imagine that the magic of being a parent is in helping a brand new person experience the world. It's in seeing everything through a fresh lens, looking at ordinary objects most people don't think twice about and wondering, "What are the thousands of ways I can use this disappoint my kid?"
Point in case, this robot costume. While it's not specifically for children, it's one of the most comprehensive DIY guides for a robot suit on the Internet, and it's exactly the type of thing I imagine parents stumble across while trying to adhere to the screeching Halloween demands of their children.
I'm fascinated by the priorities of this How-To guide. Aesthetics clearly don't play a central role since the boxes are still covered in packing tape and shipping addresses, and I don't entirely understand why certain body parts require so much coverage while others are left completely exposed. Yet somehow the directions are an exhausting 10 pages. It's a special kind of cruel for parents to work vigorously on a robot costume for days without even allowing a kid a peek at it, and then finally revealing that all that work was for this clumsy pile of cardboard. That look of disenchantment must be real satisfying for some parents.
"Hold on, don't start crying yet. I want to get my camera."
Sadly, it doesn't look like the type of costume that will last very long, if the night. Though I don't think it matters much to the kids who will be happy to destroy it and it probably doesn't matter much to the parents either who likely pushed their kid out the door in it and prayed for rain anyway.
#1. This Fishbowl Costume
Country Living magazine has made no pretenses of appealing to children. They know that kids want to go trick or treating as Iron Man or as Harry Potter, but they're not interested in what kids want. They're on the side of parents who have spent too much time with their kids in remote, rural areas where Country Living is actually applicable. They know the quickest way to demoralize a child is to force him into public on Halloween as the one inanimate object synonymous with boredom.
A fishbowl will never be cool, and the additional twist of the parental knife here is that the costume isn't even trying. It's so half-assed that it's beyond the work of a neglectful parent. Even indifferent parents will Sharpie a superhero mask on their kid's face; this costume is different. It's specifically for those moms and dads who have a score to settle. I dare anyone to find a kid who genuinely wants to wear this, because even the best-executed version of this fishbowl outfit -- with the most realistic looking fish and diffused, battery-powered lights to create a murky underwater effect -- can distract from the blatant symbolism of parents stuffing their kid in a garbage bag.
Ugh, they're not even recyclable.
For more from Soren, check out Why 'Psychics' Need to Stop Pretending They Can Solve Crimes and 5 Writing Tips for the People Who Send Me Death Threats.