I am nuts. Totally certifiable. I know this because every year around this time every adult person I know- my husband, my mother, my friends- tells me so.
You see, I’m making my children’s Halloween costumes.
I know. I know! I know that we can buy entire ensembles complete with magic wands, flashing light sabers and realistically blood-drenched machetes at Wal-Mart for less than the price of a pack of gum. I know that it would be better for my child’s imagination to make a costume herself out of empty Cheerios boxes and tin foil.
It doesn’t matter. I’ve begun to realize this is something beyond comprehension that I am simply going to have to accept. And thus every fall, like swallows returning to Capistrano, I find myself wandering the aisles of Jo-Ann Fabrics, trying to figure out where the ¼ inch elastic might be.
Oh, and I should mention that I don’t sew. Did I mention that? Or rather, I didn’t sew, way, way back in the Mesozoic Pre-Children Era, and for most intents and purposes I still don’t. I am completely self-taught on a steady, if infrequent diet of girl’s Halloween costumes, which is to say that, over the years, I’ve managed to make a velveteen ladybug antennae cap, a black felt nun’s habit, a Madeline cape and a satin off-the-shoulder princess gown, but I am completely incapable of hemming my daughter’s pants.
Every year or so, I let saner heads prevail and I get talked out of mounting the expedition to Jo-Ann’s. I give in to the pressures of everyday life and decide they’re all right- the kids are just as happy wearing cheap, shiny garbage churned out by a factory in China by the jillions. Last year we bought two matching purple polyester queen costumes for our two daughters at- I kid you not- a Cracker Barrel restaurant. (You know- that’s the down-home, American-to-the-core restaurant chain that serves honest food like Ma used to make and has a large, wholesome-as-apple-pie gift shop at the front in which not one single solitary item is actually made in the U.S.)
So I gave in. Halloween was looming and I hadn’t made it to the fabric mecca yet. Not to mention the fact that- as all parents eventually learn- the darling little munchkins have a quirky habit of changing what they want to be two hours before the annual school Halloween procession and you have to coax them, excruciatingly, into their now despised costume so that you won’t appear to be the one remiss parent who forgot the pivotal importance of Halloween to your child’s healthy emotional upbringing and instead went to a martini bar with your friends to talk about the latest Sex in the City movie.
Consequently, I reasoned, not getting too emotionally attached to one costume or another can be a positive thing for the parent.
But perhaps the most influential factor in my decision to buy costumes last year was my recurring nightmare featuring: the princess gown (dun dun dun DUN.) I still shudder when I recall that satin princess gown pattern- all those slippery little pieces… all those yards and yards of pricey pink fabric sliding around the dining room table… and what do you mean I need to line it? What do we think this is, Broadway? They’re going to wear it ONCE for chrissakes, do we really need to construct this outfit as if they were going to play rugby in it? And no, I will NOT drive forty-five minutes back to the store to buy more interfacing! I just won’t! (I always know I’m in trouble when I start talking to the pattern envelope.)
Needless to say, I didn’t finish Sleeping Beauty’s signature pink gown until two in the morning the night before the all-important school parade. The gown was lovely- but I was a bleary-eyed mess.
Coincidentally, one of my daughter’s friends went as Aurora too, only she had the $13.95 costume from Wal-Mart. Truthfully, they both looked very nice.
And yet- this year I still couldn’t help myself. I had visions of those cheap purple things from last year in my head and it was killing me. They were cute, sure, but the plastic skirt hoops- which had been so alluring in the store- both broke about two seconds after they put them on and refused to be fixed even with the most elaborate combination of scotch tape, safety pins and under-breath-swearing. Plus, they just had no specialness to them. And to me, specialness, that making your kid feel special- with those little things you can do, or, can just barely do- is one of the things that brings me the most joy as a parent.
So I’m giving it another shot. This Halloween my older daughter wants to go as a “50s girl”- not that she has the faintest idea what the fifties were or the fact that, no, Mommy wasn’t around for them, thank you very much. Oh, this is an easy one I thought… compared to Princess Aurora’s 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle a poodle skirt would be a piece of cake! So we trooped off to Jo-Ann’s in early September with a healthy amount of Halloween optimism.
And then my younger daughter needed to choose too…. what would she be? She settled on a delightful Little Bo Peep costume! When it’s done it will be the sweetest little pink gingham dress…with a set of bloomers…. and a frilly little hat… and ten yards of frilly lace trim… and an adorable little… apron…
All I can say is, Daddy is on crook patrol.