The Halloween Costume Debacle – Part 1

I am not a terribly prepared or organized human being, but I know from experience that if you wait until mid-October to buy children’s Halloween costumes they will be picked over and you will never get what you want. Halloween is the one holiday I have down, when school starts in September we order our Halloween costumes.

This year Claudia was to be a cheerless leader and Ian was going to be a stealth ninja.

Did you notice the past tense even though Halloween is still two days away?

Yesterday was the “Fall Spirit Parade” (see: Halloween parties for the politically correct) at the Goon Squad’s elementary school.  Technically they were supposed to dress as storybook characters, but after three years we have learned how to work around this system. First you buy the costume, then you find a book with a ninja in it.

I am such a good role model.

Okay, I’m a terrible role model but I was so sick of fighting with them AND finding two costumes that I thought we could make this happen. You have to choose your battles and this year it was between the Halloween costume fight or the homework and chewing with your mouth closed fights.

I just said yes. You can wear that to school. Just don’t take any weapons.

Back to the Fall Spirit Parade! It is a huge parade around the field with every kid in the school and 70% of the moms in the neighborhood. The parade is insane. It is like a a 45 minute long Lollapalooza except the music sucks and most of us weren’t high or drunk. I know I was painfully sober. At our school we have a party in the classroom with crafts and games and treats and then everyone changes into their costume and goes outside for the main event.

As a parent of more than one child I have to volunteer in more than one class. My usual plan is to run back and forth between classrooms the entire time. It is stressful, but it usually gets me out of being in charge of the crafts and I loathe doing crafts. So yesterday as I make my way back in to my daughter’s classroom she is walking out of the changing area and saying “I forgot to bring in the main part of my costume.” We look in her costume bag. Is isn’t there. We look in her other bags.

Her costume is nowhere to be found.

She starts tearing up.

“Don’t worry.” I say “We’ll figure out something.”

She is starting to really cry. I know it is embarrassing to cry in front of your friends.

“Okay, let’s just take the pom poms.” (pom pons? whatever)

She shakes her head no. Then she says “IT ISN’T FAIR!”

I said. “Hey! Don’t yell at me. I didn’t lose your costume.”

But then I felt bad. I knew she was looking forward to this and I knew it was devastating for her. This is something they look forward to all year.

I offered to run home and see if it was there. But I could see her, feeling like a mess, embarrassed that she was so upset, but really really upset. So I asked if she wanted to run home with me to see if we could find it.

Keep in mind, this is 20 minutes until the party starts.

This post is already really really long, so I will just make you a list of the things that happened next.

  • couldn’t find her teacher
  • cleared the plan with another teacher
  • found teacher
  • explained plan to teacher
  • signed her out of school
  • ran to car
  • got car out of very, very, very tight parking spot with daughter yelling “WE WILL NEVER MAKE IT ON TIME!!!”
  • drove home
  • ran inside and up the stairs

The costume wasn’t there.

Her costume wasn’t anywhere. My best guess was that is somehow ended up on the bus.

The following are ideas I came up with and were all rejected in the five minutes after the shocking discovery that the Tinkerbell costume from three years ago wasn’t long enough (all of it involving screaming and crying): Harry Potter, Hermione, a stormtrooper, a Tae Kwon Do student, a football player, a jedi, Princess Leia, a baby.

Desperate I scanned the closets (also where I found the other eight options) and saw the flower girl dresses.

“Do you want to wear a flower girl dress?” I asked.

“Which one?” she said.

“I don’t care,” I probably actually yelled “How about the green one.”

As I am putting on the flower girl dress from her Aunt and Uncle’s wedding over a year ago I notice the size of the dress which is a 4.

Claudia wears a seven or an eight. Thankfully she is tall and skinny and it zipped up even over the long sleeved white shirt we had to put on under it because it was 42 degrees out and windy.

She looked beautiful.

“Okay.” she said.

“Then run.” I said.

And we ran. And we drove and she cried “We’ll never make it on time! This isn’t fair! You don’t even like me!”

I remained calm-ish. I explained that if I didn’t like her I wouldn’t be doing any of this and how far out of my way I had gone for her and that I should be returning client phone calls but instead I was driving her back to the spirit parade which isn’t even that fun for moms.

I also told her that if she gave me anymore lip there would be no trick or treating on Monday.

We parked the car and ran – RAN – out to the field where the festivities were just starting. “We’ll never find my class.” she said very careful not to whine or cry.

But we did. We found her class easily. She almost started to cry again until her best friend turned around and said “She looks pretty.” and then “Claudia, sit here.” and then she made some space.

And all was well.

For about an hour and a half.

(The Halloween Costume Debacle – Part II to follow.)

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  1. I think my favorite part of parenting is working really hard and going out of my way to do something extraordinary for my children and then getting yelled at anyway.

    That said, poor Claudia. That sucks. You are an AWESOME mom for going above and beyond like that. I’m glad it worked out.

    Or did it?…

  2. Our school, too, has the storybook character day. And we, too, have learned the end around way by choosing the costume and then visiting the library to find such a book…and I am THE PRINCIPAL of the school, so I don’t see where you’re doing anything wrong :)

    You were awesome to think so quickly on your feet…can’t wait to hear the rest. Keep telling yourself that someday she WILL appreciate you!

  3. This is the parenting equivalent of the “I-forgot-to-study-for-the-final-exam” panic that sets in when you realize that some major part of your life is going to become unhinged.

    Terrifying for all involved.

  4. smart aleck says:

    I am in suspense waiting for Part II of the debacle.

    But man, you are a great mom.

  5. Love that part of the parenting upside is the gratitude for busting your a$$… or not. Or maybe when they’re 30?

  6. Oh god. You handled that like a champ, Mom.

  7. Well done, and I can’t wait to hear Part II.

  8. “Claudia was to be a cheerless leader” cries to be scrapbooked.

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