No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Prelude

One of my favorite stories from the absurdity of my childhood actually originates with my sister Melanie. When she was very little (and likely before I was born) our mom was helping our oldest sister Paula get ready for trick or treating. Paula was donning her costume. Melanie was watching and starting to get animated, realizing that she didn't have a costume too, and what would she wear? I've learned from this story that, like my mom, when I get over stimulated by a super animated kid I do two things: (1) OHMYGODBEQUIETIAMDYING and (2) think quickly to solve whatever is working the kid up so that I can get some peace again.

The thing was, there was no costume for Melanie. My mom hadn't actually planned one, and Melanie being so little hadn't come up with her idea in advance either. But, clearly Melanie now needed SOMETHING to walk around trick or treating, so my mom did what she could. Being in Alaska it was already well into winter on Halloween (I actually have my own clear memory of literally crawling up a neighbor's driveway while wearing a genie costume on some other Halloween because we'd had a flash freeze the night before and their driveway had a slight tilt to it. But ice be damned, I was getting that candy.). So, my mom took the only reasonable option she had. She dressed Melanie in a head to toe snowsuit, then put Paula's swimsuit on Melanie over the outside of the snowsuit and told Melanie her costume was "swimmer."

I love the image of little Randy, the younger brother to Ralphie in A Christmas Story having been shoved into his full body snowsuit and now so surrounded by warm-clothinged puff he can't walk except by keeping all his limbs out stick straight. So, yes, he can now go outside but he might not be able to move enough to enjoy it. In imagining little-Melanie dressed up for Halloween as "swimmer" I imagine her as little Randy times two--surrounded by sausage encassing snow clothing now squeezed further by lycra water racing wear.

The 11-year old excitedly told me on Monday that she would get to wear her Halloween costume to school today. "Oh crap" is honestly the first thought I had because it meant we'd have to get up extra early to don her Rock and Roll Medusa hair, complete with tied in rubber snakes. As things are usually we wake up no more than 15 minutes prior to the school bell (I kid you not) and manage to get everything she needs ready and then to school on time. Getting up in time to braid hair, paint hair, tie in snakes, get dressed, deal with lunch, and put on Medusa makeup would surely count as more than 15 minutes. Still, this was clearly important. If her school was going to have Friday Halloween costumes, then the realities of social currency dictated she'd best go with very cool Medusa hair. So, this morning we got up early.

Voila! The results...





With the extra preparations she missed the bus, so I drove her to school. On the way I was thinking back to my elementary Halloween experiences that included a full school parade of costumes on the day Halloween was observed. All the kids would go to school thoroughly festooned and then mid-morning the entire school would stop and prepare itself for the parade of classes to go by. Somehow it would all be timed so that each classroom saw every other classroom, and the kids would cheer for each other wildly. I remember both the intimidation of walking through the ENTIRE SCHOOL as a first grade witch complete with green face, and then the total pride and condescending adoration of cheering as a fifth grade magician. Foggy from fatigue, I drove the little one to her Halloween school day dreaming about her costumery life on parade, figuring the advantage of driving her to school was I'd get to view a sea of cheap wigs and overdrawn face paint.

Oh! So not true.

The 11-year old had failed to inform me that in her entire school it was only her class (not even the other fifth grade classes) and the first graders that were getting dressed up today. As she just put it, "The other teachers are too strict." Mid-morning they would celebrate the first grader parade, but had been instructed not to cheer because last year it apparently scared some of the little ones. What?!! So, when we pulled up to her school I did see one over sized pastel blue hat, and that was it. My kid had on the most costumery anywhere. Ah well. Jeez.

So, the morning school drop off turned out to be an ultra-fast pep talk consisting basically of, "now remember, you've got on too much hair paint, make up, and STUFF to back out now. You're in costume, trying to remove anything just won't work. So you've got to commit. Just completely go with it, and love it. And also, if anyone laughs, it's because they're excited to see someone doing it."

"That's right!" She responded. "If anyone laughs it's cause they're jealous cause they wish they were doing it too." And off she slowly trotted. A horde of girls from her class ran up, none of them dressed any differently than they would be on some other day, but all in adoration surrounding my daughter (who also turns out to be taller than any of them, I now discover). I stayed for a bit to watch from a distance at how the little one was handling it. She was rocking around on her feet a bit, obviously a touch awkward from the attention, but standing there like a people loving modern day medusa bad ass just the same.

Wish her luck!

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