Anyway, back to the memory. It's 19-seventy-something and I'm in the fifth grade--my first day of a new school in the suburbs of Chicago. My sister is in second grade and it just so happens to be Halloween. We had heard from some neighbors that the kids do a really special thing at school for Halloween. You see, they have a costume parade around the playground and through the school. "How much fun!," we thought as we donned our costumes for a fun-filled first day.
My Mom loaded my sister and I up in our VW Wagon for the short drive to J.B. Nelson Elementary. We were there extra early since we were also registering--so no other kids had arrived at the time. Little did we know the social disaster that would soon befall our innocent, young, decked-out-in-costume-from-head-to-toe selves. And these were not the kind of costumes you just take on and off.
We were IN CHARACTER, y'all.
I was Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer's girlfriend, proudly wearing a custom-made Little House on the Prarie-ish dress, long stockings, boots, a bonnet and two long yarn braids pinned securely in my air since I had the ever-popular (but not braidable) Dorothy Hamil cut at the time (and if you don't know what that is either, I am going to apply for social security TODAY). To complete the ensemble, my Mom had tied my lunch up in a red bandana and secured it to the end of a fishing pole. I was so proud.
Now my sister was even more ornately decorated than I. She was an enchanted snow fairy, oh yes she was. Blue tutu and tights, ballet slippers and a homemade star wand beautifully complimented the gallon-sized jug of glitter we used on her face and hair. I remember her looking quite pretty and, well, sparkly. Very sparkly in her blue tutu she was.
Mom left us in the capable hands of the school administrators who, consequently, did not advise us on our fate. It was then that the first bell rang and the kids started pouring into the school. Kids that were dressed for a normal day of school only they were all toting large bags, bags that contained...yep, their Halloween costumes to be used AFTER LUNCH.
Tragedy? Yes. In fact, it was in my know-no one-at-the-school- and-now-I'm-a-laughing-stock young mind. My poor sister, standing there in her glitter-bedecked glory...well, at least we had each other. So, we trudged forward with the bravery of a front-line soldier into the cruel world of elementary school taunting. Our teachers did their best to make us feel comfortable and to comment favorably on the creativeness of our get-ups but the damage was already done.
If you are wondering how my Mom found out, well she passed our bus stop on the way home and saw neighbor children with their tote bags and, upon questioning little Andrew from next door, knew that we were in for a day. If she were still here I'm sure she could refresh my memory on her actions thereafter...but I think Jenny and I just chose to stick it out and forge on--anything to avoid getting undressed and redressed later.
I relay this story because yesterday was Crazy-Dress-Up Day at D's Vacation Bible School. My 6-year old could not have been more excited about the prospect of dressing wild 'n crazy (as he called it) but I for one was petrified. Especially when he asked me, "Mommy, what if I'm the only one dressed up?"
What do I say? "Well, honey, if you are, then you will carry years of emotional baggage which will cause you to miss out on all the fun dress up opportunities through the rest of your school years because you're too afraid?"
No. I said, "You won't be. I feel sure of it. And, even if you are, you are just having fun and you can have fun even if no one else does." I'm not so sure my shaky confidence was quite believable.
But, we did find the wackiest outfit we could put together and spiked his hair and found some wacky glasses and he looked adorable. And as we entered the sanctuary where hundred of kids were singing the opening song I noticed almost everyone had dressed "wild 'n crazy" and my child fit right in. And for a moment, I was standing there in my yarn braids and bonnet with my lunch on a stick...having the time of my life.