In case it escaped anyone’s notice, Halloween is fast approaching. In my house that means daily conversations about costume ideas, creating a plan of attack for trick-or-treating, and, well, it’s pretty much just those two things. My daughter is six years old, and like other kids her age (or any age, kids being kids and all); she knows exactly what she wants. She is going to be a mummy. This marks a first for both of us; it is her first time being something scary and my first time designing something scary. Clearly, we are going to agree on everything!
In years past my dear daughter has looked into her dress-up box and picked something she already owns. For the record, I think this is very decent of her. We have been participants her whole life at faerie festivals around the U.S., and my mom is rather clever with a sewing machine, so there’s always been something neat on hand and I just flesh it out by adding small details and accessories. She was a faerie when she was two, Captain Feathersword when she was three (I did do a lot of the work on that one, now that I think of it), Cinderella when she was four, and when she was five she was, on different nights, a cat, an astronaut, and the princess Belle. We had a lot of ground to cover that year, so in addition to needing extra safety tips, we needed the extra costumes.
But this year she wants to go scary. Back and forth she went between vampire and mummy before finally settling on the more mindless of the cursed creatures, and then the ball was in my court as to how to best bring this creature to life, so to speak. I’ve been thinking about bandages vs. muslin, various wrapping techniques (too loose and it’s sloppy, too tight and it just looks like she’s in traction), whether or not I should tea-stain the material first or just make it look dirty with dusting powder after it’s on her, and on and on. I’ve even been thinking about which herbs I’ll need to tuck into the wrappings around her stomach, you know, for authenticity. I’m going with Marjoram. Just to be sure, because she has been known to change her mind, I asked her earlier this week what she wants to be for Halloween and she said she still wants to be a mummy. Cool. Then she said, “I’ll need a roll of toilet paper.”
Toilet paper? Really?
And now I’m not sure if she has really low expectations or if I am overthinking this whole project. To be fair, we run into these differences in approach somewhat often. Usually I see this in regards to school work or family obligations, to simply getting dressed in the morning (for the love of all that is holy, pick out some socks!), though I believe it could be anything.
The truth is we are at our best together when we meet in the middle, somewhere between the carefully dried fragrant herbs and the Charmin, between the thing that will last forever and the thing that will only last until the next rainfall. The middle path, the path of wisdom, in Buddhism, comes up again and again as I parent this child, when I am too tight and she is too loose, or the other way around, and so we tune our proverbial lute and come into harmony through willing compromise.
So I don’t say that I am wrong to put a lot of thought into her costume. Nor is she incorrect in her desire to make it easy. Because by Halloween we’ll have it done, together, and we’ll both be happy, just like we always are.
Except now she wants to be a zombie.