Feathered Fun

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

The photo to the right is what my family calls Exhibit A from my Hot Glue Gun Phase. For my daughter's third Halloween, I got the inspired idea to take a red sweatshirt and hot-glue a couple of bags of dyed feathers to it. Then I took one of those knit pullover hats, hot-glued a tuft of feathers to the top as well as the cut-off corner of a shoebox to create a beak.

I called it "A Bird of Paradise." My husband called it "An Exploding Parrot." My daughter loved it and she cleaned up big time in the trick-or-treat department.

Flash forward six years when I lovingly pulled the bird costume out of storage for my son. He took one look at it, then shot me a look that said, "You and what army are gonna get me into that thing?"

As penance, I had to make him an "Elephant Astronaut" costume. Because, if you've ever had a 4-year-old boy with strong opinions about, well, everything, then you know that the idea of putting Dumbo in space seems like a reasonable use of tax dollars.

(Incidentally, the Elephant Astronaut would have done just as well as the Bird of Paradise in the treat-acquisition campaign, except it took too long to explain the costume at each stop. Only the college kids seemed to get it right away.)

Nowadays, my kids won't let me near them with a hot-glue gun. Their Halloween costumes have long since gone the way of something fun but not too crazy - which, to my mind, totally negates the purpose of Halloween.

But whatever my son dresses up as this year, chances are he'll confer first with one of his best friends whose name is also Colin and who lives across the street.

We've known this Colin since he was 5 and virtually uncommunicative because he has autism. His family has done an amazing job, helping Colin become a poised and often chatty young man of 15. I know it hasn't been an easy journey for them, but we have all learned so much - my Colin especially - from knowing them and from watching their Colin grow.

With this month's issue, I've also learned a lot about autism. Columbus Parent is proud to be a sponsor of this year's Walk Now for Autism Speaks, which takes place on Oct. 10 at the Schottenstein Center. Columbus' edition of the Walk is one of the largest and most successful in the country, and it's due to the energy and passion of parents like WCMH-TV sports anchor Jerod Smalley whose family's journey into the world of autism has inspired his high-energy advocacy (and he plied me with lots of great ideas for stories in this issue).

We can all learn something from people like Jerod and his family, and I hope with this month's Columbus Parent we help you do that.