His first Halloween, Becket was a puppy dog. The costume, a gift from England, was a pair of footie pj’s, and a hood with ears and a puppy face. We lived in a NYC high rise and when he crawled down the carpeted hallway from door to door, the tail sewn on his bottom wagged perfectly back and forth. He was cute enough to EAT! I was HOOKED.
The next Halloween we lived in Chicago and met some fun friends who decided all the small people should be “The Wizard of Oz gang – We need a Tin Man, can Becket be our Tin Man?” Why suuuuure, I said without the advantage of a complete understanding of, to what I was agreeing. I spent close to 25 hours on that piece of s…. silver lamé. That costume had 973 miserable pattern sections, was flippin’ fully hinged, entailed minuscule silver shoe spats, a full hood head cover, a hand-made funnel on top and a rackem-schmaken ticking heart in the middle.
And it was adooooorable! The “Gang from Oz” assembled for a photo around the head Fun Friend dressed as the wicked witch who had also decked out her front sidewalk to be the Yellow Brick Road – and like the release of Oxytocin after birth, all the threads and needles and buttons and band-aids were forgotten!
I should have learned my lesson from those fun friends when the third year they told me the theme was “Toy Story – and Becket would be a perfect Wheezy!” I’m thinking this all must have gone down during one of our legendary Friday Pinot Playdates, because I said shuuuuure, without even knowing who or what was a Wheezy.
It’s a penguin. Wheezy is a squeaky penguin and there are ZERO patterns for this particular Toy Story character, UNLIKE the ever-popular Woody and Buzz – CHEATERS! Undaunted (and arguably OCD) I headed to the fabric store, where the purchase of a hot-glue gun just may have saved my life. SEVERAL days and few scorched skin patches later, I was feeling pretty high on Artsy-Craftsy Mama Power. Then my engorged ego was fed even larger when Becket won Lincoln Park Best Costume. “I’d like to thank God, my family… and my pinking shears for eradicating the need for hemming….
The amount of ooohs and ahhhs and happy laughter I received… er… I mean Becket… Becket received, begging for candy that year was enough to give me an iron clad annual October Fabric Addiction.
Having moved to tiny town Michigan and sporting a serious case of Cocky, I asked Becket the next year “Who should we make for Halloween?” Open ended. Just like that. Anything you want, Bug. Bring it.
He hesitated. So I immediately jumped to the rescue with a list of the creatures that populated his small person world. Finally I came up with “Special Agent Oso!” I didn’t even look for a pattern, I was the Queen of costumes, besides I knew none existed as Oso was a brand new character. NO ONE else would even DARE attempt Oso!!! I was going to blow all these new neighbors OUT OF THE WATER!!! Once again off to the fabric store, this time with the opening lines of my First Place Acceptance Speech beginning to form in my head.
One week and LOTS of dollars later, and I had completed what was disputably the finest Special Agent Oso costume ever created, even to this day… go ahead, Google it. The final fitting was held the day before Halloween, and it was PERFECT. I probably should have noticed, however, a certain change in the enthusiasm level of the wearer of the costume during this event. Alas, my Halloween Costume Dependence had taken on a life of its own, and it never crossed my mind that a person could decide to NOT wear his hand-made much-loved mama-sweated masterpiece for Trick-or-Treat.
Well… it turns out a person CAN decide to NOT wear his hand-made much-loved mama-sweated masterpiece for Trick-or-Treat. And when that non-violent protest occurs, here is what does not work; Coercion, Threats, Begging, Bribes or Tears. I tried them all. More than once.
He simply stated. “People will laugh at me. I’m not going to wear it.” And he didn’t.
I had to have a little Sit Down with myself to assess the roller coaster of emotions roiling inside me. I landed on Grief. Yep, believe it or not deep down underneath the anger, the sadness, the rage, the disbelief, was grief that I had spent so much time and effort on something that was not only unappreciated, but would never even SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY! And if I were to be completely honest, grief that no matter what I did there was no way Special Agent Oso would fit ME, so I could let him live without needing the small person at the helm. It may appear to the outside observer, that I just might have lost sight of what Halloween is all about… maybe.
That was it. Oso went into the Halloween storage bin… unrequited, uncelebrated, unrealized.
Still pouting the next year, I grudgingly asked Becket what would he like to be for Halloween. Knowing secretly that if he promised to wear it at the moment of truth, I would again happily fire up the sewing machine and make him the biggest bestest Halloween costume to ever hit Sixth Street! This time he did not hesitate, “A Black Ninja!”
Wha the? How milquetoast could it get? Where was the WOW factor?!?
It did cross my mind to do it up big. I did make my yearly pilgrimage to JoAnn’s and looked at patterns for official Tae Kwon Do Doe Boke written in Korean, I finger tested fabric for the right weight and hand. Then I came to my senses, went to the Goodwill and found a black turtle-neck and sweat pants. A stop at Target, for a $6 black hood with a golden dragon and I was done. Sigh.
As he skipped from door to door my little Jeja wore something I had not noticed in any of the previous Halloween Extravaganzas. It was mostly hidden under the black swath across his lower face, but I could see it. And I could tell in his eyes. He was wearing a giant smile. The beaming grin of someone who knew what he wanted and got it.
This year… and not ONLY at Halloween, I have decided, that before I jump in and apply my heart and soul to what I think is the perfect whatever-it-is, I am first going to ask people (small and large) what THEY want. How I can help facilitate their desires. Instead of launching into a full blown Leave-it-to-me-I-can-make-it-better rescue mission, I will ask my people-I-love if they need anything… if they would like help, or if they would perhaps rather just have a set of listening ears?
I guess sometimes the very best thing we can do to make something perfect is to let go of our own ideas of how to make something perfect, and allow the actual participants to decide the best way to enjoy their very own world-class award-winning something perfect. And to trust it will be just Boo-tiful.
Tami, how many ways can I admire you? Not only for your ability to weave beautiful, heart warming stories (and apparently costumes ;-)) with fantastic messages that everyone can relate to; this week, it’s also for being able to use the word ‘milquetoast’ in a sentence.
Lovely, Tami! As the mom to two ninjas and an “unknown phantom” this year, I can relate completely! But now I want to know more about the Friday Pinot Playdates…
Oh I can SO relate! That penguin is the cutest EVER! But I am giggling at Agent Oso’s face. Classic!