Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween: Break Out the Costume... or Break It Off

It’s Halloween here at Café Catiche. This time of year, I fondly recall orange and black icing-swirled cupcakes brought to school in shirt boxes, construction paper crafts, and homemade costumes. Having children, I get to live vicariously through their own little Halloween parties and pageants. Today, I was excited because Tiny Man was going to be celebrating with his schoolmates in his preschool parade. The assignment for costumes was sent home as a way to further literacy: dress your child as a character from his favorite book. Every night, my son enjoys what his own sister used to read repeatedly as well, a nonfiction book about Egyptian mythology and mummification rituals.

This is easy, I told myself as I patted my own back for creatively solving the costume problem: a roll of white crepe paper and a roll of self-adhesive bandage. This afternoon, with wrappings and a little magic tape on hand, I strode confidently into the classroom, where my son eagerly awaited, and began the process of mummifying him.

Oh, how foolish I was! He complained regardless of the fact that I had mentally prepared him for his mummy costume. This was not what he wanted to wear, he insisted. He would rather be a gladiator, which of course, is not a character in a book we read, so that one, designed (also handmade) for this weekend, was sitting at home.

“You’re choking me,” he whined, as I loosely wrapped the outside of his face and around his head and neck. By the time I was done, I had cleverly wrapped his body and arms as well. He looked fantastic, but the self-adhesive bandage (which works by pressure, not glue) bothered him, so he pulled it off, crinkling up the tape and binding it in places where it now complicated re-wrapping. His teacher and I re-attached it more comfortably. He went to sit with his friends (who, by the way, loved his costume) and watch a five minute counting video until the parade started. I hoped the crepe paper wrapping would hold. He seemed content with his friends and looked adorable, but I knew better than to assume that no battle lay ahead.

As the children lined up for the parade, my son came to me crying. All the wrappings were off and crumpled on the floor.

“New costume!” he demanded through tears. He had removed it all himself.

“No,” I said. I told him that the consequence of destroying his costume was that he would have to walk the parade as himself, not as a mummy. The crying became louder and he did not stop. Outside, I put him in time out and told him he could not cry in the parade, but that when he was done crying and ready, we would try again. The crying continued. I removed him from the playground, where children were being organized, and brought him, still crying, back to the classroom. We packed up his things and left. Meanwhile, Tiny Man, in that sort of still yet unnamed vowel sound that children are able to carry, continued to whine, complain, and really, just irritate me.

“Why are you mad at me?” he asked.

“Had I known this would have gone as badly, I would have stayed at home,” I said. Reiterating what he already knew (the effects of his choices), I tucked him into the car, turned out of the parking lot, and before we were half-way home, he was asleep.

Last year, he refused to wear the top half of his handmade shark costume. In full fish regalia, Tiny’s face peeked out of the jaws of the shark. It was a brilliant idea that took days to conceive but only a night or two to make. Everyone loved it but him, and he was the one that had chosen the shark concept. The year before, he was a superhero, but destroyed much of his face make up and undid the spiked hair prior to the trick-or-treat walk. The previous Halloween, he had also rebelled against his costume (a devil, because he is one). This weekend, he will be wearing a gladiator costume that I used my new sewing machine to help make. I built the whole concept around a helmet that he loves to wear.

I’ll let you know if we make it down the sidewalk, costume intact. I doubt it though.

Happy Halloween!

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