she’s a girl with glasses

has anyone seen my tamborine?
October 31, 2009, 9:02 pm
Filed under: blog, other | Tags: , , , ,

I like to think of myself as crafty. I have my moments– for a time, I ran a moderately successful, extremely small-time children’s clothing shop online– and am a rather creative person. The issue, of course, as I am sure it is for other people, is my vision rarely matches my capabilities. I can envision really amazing things– say, a set of fairy wings using nothing but a hanger and a vintage lace shrug; but the outcome is dubious– said fairy wings looked like a hanger and tissue paper.

I am both stubborn and a perfectionist, two things that are oddly misplaced within me. Both my mother and I have discussed how we want to do everything perfectly the first time and will give up or, worse, not do it at all, if that is not a possibility. That’s stupid, and we both know it, and we both have areas where this is patently untrue, but it gives us an out when we have an idea, and the means to do it, so we can drink wine and bitch about how well we could have done it if we had bloody well sat down and done it.

We’re tragically alike, my mother and I.

As such, since I had children, I’ve had this idea that NO CHILD OF MINE WOULD HAVE A STORE BOUGHT COSTUME. And that was all well and good on my daughter’s first Halloween. She was ten months old, not walking, and rather game about letting me dress her up like a doll. My mother-in-law, a tapestry artist and knitter of the voluminous output variety, knit her a tail and hat with ears, and we dressed her in black sweatpants, a black Halloween shirt and black slippers. A kitty! She was adorable. The next Halloween, which featured me heavily pregnant (and wearing a make-shift pumpkin shirt my friend had Sharpied and foisted on me before he’d allow me to take K trick-or-treating), and K with a walking cast (her leg had broken due to a congenital deformity of the tibia), we recycled the hat, I stitched wings to a black shirt and, VOILA, bat!

We made it to the next year, where K announced she wanted to be “someone who likes to pick pumpkins.” I decided to translate that as “farmer” and got her overalls and a flannel shirt, plus a straw hat. Her brother, ten months old at the time? A pumpkin of course. This year featured me in a costume that is still spoken of today: I dressed as a cow. Now, it wasn’t that impressive, except I seemed to have forgotten how many udders a cow actually has. I cut up a pair of pink rubber gloves and glued them to a t-shirt. What, cows only have four udders? Posh, this cow will give you milk for weeks. Oh, breastfeeders, we are a funny lot.

I was getting anxious the older my daughter got and more, how should we say, UTTERLY AND BATSHIT OBSESSED she became with princesses, particularly those of the Disney variety. I am not a girly-girl. I am baffled by ruffles and lace and high heels. My daughter is infatuated with them, with all the classic princess accessories. So I was relieved when she, just a couple months shy of her fourth birthday, requested to be a flower for Halloween. That, I could do.

Sort of. Did I mention my output rarely lives up to my vision? It might have helped if I’d started the costume before the actual day. That’s another prevailing theme in my life: I apparently like to run, headlong, into a deadline.

I made a long netting skirt out of bright green material, then made a “headress” of petals. Even K was unimpressed, but she wore it dutifully. In the effort to keep pairing the children for as long as I could, I decided M should be a bee. But to make a bee costume? I waited until no one was looking… and bought one off eBay.

It felt oddly shameful, like ordering porn. What mother didn’t take time out of her day to make her baby a costume? A lazy mother, I scolded myself, tugging the adorably chubby costume over his head. I was a terrible mother. When they entered therapy as teenagers, the blame would land solely on my shoulders.

Last year, K asked to be a princess. M wanted to be Spiderman. Working full-time, 40+ hours a week, I threw in the towel. My parents bought her the standard ice blue ballgown of Cinderella fame and M received his bodysuit and mask from Target. Their other grandparents arrived with a whole set of plastic jewelry, crown and heels for K. I was ashamed, and I was tired and amused. I ordered pizza and delighted in their excitement over the holiday. Where other kids can’t handle those plastic masks that come in costume sets? My boy has a commitment to a bit and never took it off.

Preparations for this year’s Halloween started, oh, last November 1st. I gave them guidelines: mid-September, they had to give me the final on their Halloween costumes. They did: M wanted to be Kung Fu Panda and K wanted to be Tinkerbell. All well and good, but I, for one, think Halloween should be the one day you get to dress in something that you ordinarily wouldn’t pull out of your closet. K got a Tinkerbell costume for Christmas the year before. Plus, Halloween in Denver is historically cold and snowy and, let’s face it, Tinkerbell doesn’t cover much skin. In an effort to dissuade her, A suggested she dress as our dog, Zooey. To wit:
She thought it a grand idea. And then so did M. And then my wheels were turning and I thought: this couldn’t possibly be that hard.

I shouldn’t be allowed to think to myself.

I started with black pants and white hooded sweatshirts, then picked up sets of black gloves and an accidental metric ton of black felt and a little wire. This couldn’t be that complicated, except I didn’t want to sew. And so I fell back on what I’d done for the famous cow costume: glue! I could then, after Halloween, wash the sweatshirts, the felt would fall off, and they’d have new hoodies. Genius.

The issue is: Zooey is mostly black. And so I glued giant pieces of felt to the front and backs of the shirts, which dried and took on the malleability of cardboard. Great. Making the ears proved a more daunting issue, as everyone wanted to maintain the perkiness. More felt, more glue, whip and running stitches to adhere them to the hood, much poking of fingers and cursing. The tails were more whip stitches and a safety pin and, in the end, they looked cute but… Puppies? I’m not entirely sure…
They loved their costumes. I was relieved. Puppies indeed.

I have now forsworn to never make costumes myself again. The visions will have to live within the contents of my skull, rattling to be let out. I’ll pour another glass of wine, salute their determination, and go back to discussing how very impressive that project would have been, if only I’d been the one in charge.


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