October is here – the start of the holiday season.
I love Halloween, or I used to when it meant drinking too much and kissing people in masks. I saw the added value of Halloween when my children started trick-or-treating, because they brought home candy and the Mothers wouldn’t let them eat it…so I got to. But what I thought was the one holiday exempt from judgment has just become my worst nightmare – because it involves crafting.
When the kids were babies, costumes were fairly easy to come by. Somebody always thinks it’s a good idea to buy your baby a hat in the shape of a frog or a Fleur de Lys or a bottle of catsup. After you coo and thank them profusely, you tuck it into the bottom drawer until you are reminded that Halloween is upon you; you then slap that frog/fleur/catsup on your unsuspecting child’s head and everyone declares you a genius. However, once your child can talk, they have an unsettling habit of forming opinions. So even though you thought the family dressing as the New York Dolls was a fun idea, your children may not. But not to worry, costumers make a costume for every person, place or thing out there. I came to love it – I would dress my little thieves in their ready-packaged uniforms and trot them to my neighbors to make off with a year’s supply of Kit Kats (or a month’s, depending on how my football team was doing that season.)
But last year something unsettling happened. I had the kids in their superhero/princess du jour ensemble, ready to take their place in the school parade, when Onyx Weber’s mom turned to me and asked where I work. I told her I didn’t, I was a full-time mom. And that’s when her smile turned into a sneer. She regarded my children as if I had painted them in peanut butter and coffee grounds. I checked both kids to make sure one of them hadn’t picked gum up off the floor again, when Mrs. Weber said, in the most judgmental tone imaginable: “but those are bought costumes.”
You know the concept of bringing bought items to the bake sale? Yes, well, apparently it applies to costumes as well.
So as not to be labeled a Costume Buyer for a second year in a row (I know, but these moms have a way of saying it that kind of makes me long for the days when they would merely call me a tramp), I decided to make my kids costumes this year. First off, I had to figure out what the kids wanted to be. I was sure Tabby would be easy; she always wants to be a princess. As a courtesy, I asked her anyway.
She replied, “A Ninja Dragon.” What? Is that even a thing? The concept short-circuited my brain to such a degree that I inadvertently said “okay.” I asked Logan next. He said he wanted to go as Detroit. All points for originality aside, I was dubious of recreating downtown Detroit in my first attempt at paper mache. I asked him if there wasn’t some horrific video game character threatening the moral fabric of society that he wouldn’t rather be? We eventually settled on Yoda from Star Wars. I felt fairly confident.
I had so many ideas swimming around my head; I was positively giddy with how spectacular these costumes would turn out. The finished products I saw in my minds’ eye were so fantastic, Onyx Weber would rip her hand-smocked Red Riding Hood cape from her head and throw it at her mother’s feet in shame. I spent so much time imagining the glory that would come to me this year at the Halloween parade that I forgot to actually make the costumes until the night before. But how hard can a dragon in pajamas and a short greenish follically challenged wiseguy be?
Never try to answer that question unless you are a trained professional. I poured myself a glass of wine and started with Yoda, thinking that would be the easy one.
“But what about the ears?”
“Yoda has big pointy ears.”
“Can you be a small-eared Yoda?”
Shoot. I poured another glass of wine and formed some pointy ears out of construction paper and tinfoil. I wound duct tape over them repeatedly for strength. The photo I was referencing on my phone was not that clear, so I had to improvise a little on the shape. I noticed some hairy bits sticking out and I looked around to duplicate it. I found some large dust bunnies under the couch, which seemed to look right, so I stuck those on and used a few more rolls of duct tape. I was fairly impressed with my efforts and celebrated with another glass of wine.
With a little liquid encouragement, I felt confident enough to tackle the dragon. I grabbed newspaper and began balling it up. I don’t know why I did this but it seemed like something that might be helpful for dragon- making; it isn’t. I realized I needed some form of base so I grabbed a dozen wire hangers and attempted to make the skeleton of a dragon. Only they didn’t form quite as they were supposed to and I ended up with a line of sharp, exposed metal ends; most of which had snagged the sweater I was wearing. Nate walked in and was almost rendered blind by the dragon’s “nose.” Another glass of wine convinced me that a free-form dragon would be much more interesting and I made my way to the linen closet to find any green sheets we had. Here’s an interesting fact: after a bottle of wine, you forget the fact that the dark green sheet cost $24 on sale and the muted green sheet with the silk threads in it cost $160. You don’t really weigh the implications while making the decision to cut one of them up.
My gorgeous Egyptian cotton and silk sheets soon had a hole large enough to allow the refrigerator to wear it as a skirt and a bunch of newspaper balls taped to it. The kids had gone to bed by now, so I had few options for models. I settled on a dining room chair, because even in my inebriated state, I was confident my dragon skeleton would send my darling daughter to the emergency room. It had also disappeared at this point, which I think was Nate’s contribution to the well-being of the family. I draped the sheet over the chair, got out the duct tape that was running dangerously low, and began affixing legs, arms, tails and something else that I still can’t figure out but seemed to make sense at the time. Somewhere around 3 in the morning, I had myself a dragon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it off the chair. I wrestled with that darn chair until the seat gave and I was finally able to wrench the sheet off the back. I heard tearing but simply could not handle any more sewing for one night so I pretended I hadn’t heard it, bagged everything up with the remaining duct tape and went to bed.
The next day at school, Nate and I came early to help the kids into their costumes. I carefully took out Logan’s Yoda outfit which amounted to an old bathrobe with a piece of rope tied around the middle. Logan looked at me with disdain but I smiled and told him to just wait for the ears – they would bring it all together. I produced the two, fat, oval-shaped orbs with a collection of dustbunnies attached to them and grinned. Logan looked horrified. He asked me how he was supposed to wear them. I hadn’t thought of that. I looked around quickly, snatched the baseball cap off Nate’s head and stuck the ear things on it with a glue stick.
There was no reason Yoda couldn’t be a 49ers fan.
I had failed to supervise Nate’s assembling of Tabby’s dragon. When I saw the finished effect, my glorious chair dragon had been draped around her toga-style with various torn pieces of construction paper jutting out from gaps in the folds. Random bits of duct-tape were reapplied to make the dragon corpse toga stick to Tabby’s pink cat-face shirt. The newspaper balls that I still couldn’t explain were in Tabby’s hands as if she were about to juggle them and the paper bag that I had used to carry the costume was on her head. When I looked at Nate quizzically, he shrugged and said, “You said Ninja dragon” as if that somehow explained this mess.
When anybody asked what my kids were, I told them they were a political statement.