“What are you going to be, Grammy?” my five-year old grandson asked me the other day.

Before I could answer, my eight-year old grandson answered for me, “A pumpkin.”

“How did you know?” I asked.

“Because you only have one costume and that’s what you always are.”

Sadly, he’s right. I’ve had the same homemade costume for close to ten years. You could say, I’m in a rut.

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Children get asked this question often. Halloween or not. In fact, it’s probably one of the most asked questions a child gets while in school. (But don’t quote me, I have nothing to back that up.) And they always seem to have an answer. A definitive this or that . . . which changes into another definitive this or that five minutes later.

My grandson’s question came back to me as I lay in bed that night. But this time I took the Halloween out. Much harder question. I had to switch gears from being a pumpkin to the me that’s harder to see. The me under the costume. Even though I’m finally eligible for the senior discount on coffee at McDonalds, some days I still wonder . . .

What am I going to be?

What am I under the costume?

Helping our children (and ourselves) grow those inner qualities that shape their being is a hard task. But, after all, we are human beings. I’m reminded of this every time I open our frig.


If we plant seeds of doing we will grow performance, production, perfectionism.

If we plant seeds of being we will grow beauty, belonging, and a bigger heart.

What might happen if we plant seeds of empathy? Honesty? Compassion? Kindness?

I never could let go of a card I bought when I started teaching. I saw it everyday at the entrance of my classroom. Now I see it everyday in my office where I write.


Kadir Nelson’s book, If You Plant A Seed, is a beautifully illustrated, gentle read that helps show that what is grown comes from what is planted. An eighty word picture book of fifteen page turns with a powerful message. A book to help till the soil for planting seeds of kindness. A fruit we could all use more of in this world.


IDEA ALERT: Now that frost is in the air, wrap this book up with an indoor garden kit for a fun present. (The holidays are coming up!)

Other favorites:


There are oodles and oodles of books that will help grow your child under the costume.

Here’s a place to start:


What are you going to be, Grammy? To my grandchildren’s chagrin, I’ll probably be a pumpkin again next year, and the next, and the next.

But under the costume? Well, I’ve got a few seeds to plant and give time to grow.

What books have helped grow your child under the costume?

6 thoughts on “UNDER THE COSTUME

  1. maryzychowicz says:

    Beautiful post Karen! (I love your pumpkin costume, by the way.) Very good idea for a gift!
    I can relate to being at this stage of life and still asking, “What am I going to be?”. At times a little disconcerting but also a wonderful,hopeful feeling. We’re still young at heart!!


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