Monday, November 2, 2009

a tale of two, three, four.... halloween costumes

Last halloween I was hoodwinked into buying two different costumes for Geekygirl. This year I decided to take her and her brother to choose their own costumes. Early in October Geekydaddy went to New York City for a wedding. I, moping a little since I didn't get to go and behave like a wild young thing in Manhattan, but determined to have a good weekend anyway, took the children to one of the "Halloween superstores" that spring up like mushrooms in deserted shopping malls around this time of year. I had forgotten, though, how terrified Geekygirl is of some of the spooky halloweeny decorations. She was terrified of the store, so much so that we had to dash in and out, grabbing the nearest thing off the racks and getting out of there before irreversible hysteria set in.

I rescued the mood of the day with fast food lunch, and despite the trauma of the Halloween store, Geekygirl was quite delighted with the "renaissance princess" costume we had picked up. It wasn't until I got it home that I realized that it was sized for a two year old, not a four year old as indicated on the packaging. Geekygirl squeezed herself into it, delighted with its satiny prettiness. However, with the tiny puffball skirt she looked like a Peachy Puff girl, a costume I don't think anyone wants for a three year old. At least Geekyboys "Puppy" costume was the right size and of surprisingly nice quality. Going back to the halloween store to exchange the outfit was not an option, so instead we tried Target, also scary, but more managable, and she picked out a very cute "Fancy Nancy" dress. I was pleased with this choice, Fancy Nancy is a smart young girl who likes to use "fancy words" and speak French, as well as wear foofy clothes, and is much more appealing to PC middle class parents like me than the the ubiquitous Disney princesses. Really, the franchise is quite smart marketing; sequins to appeal to the kids, language development to wow the parents!

Then, just before Halloween, a friend sent a "care package" of things her daughter had outgrown including a ballet leotard with pictures of Cinderella, Aurora and Belle on it. "Mummy", Geekygirl exclaimed in awe "Now I can be a ballet dancer AND a princess". Can I wear this for Halloween?"

So I put this treasured item along with a pair of pink tights and a tiara into a bag ready for the Friday preschool Halloween event. Only to be awoken at 1.00am by poor, sad Geekygirl throwing up.

She didn't make it to the school trick or treat event (they tricked and treated for candy over at a nearby biotech company's offices!), but was well enough for me to take her, in the ballet costume, over to join the parade that afternoon. I let her wear a little lipstick, and as she got into the car and grabbed her pacifier (yes, to my shame at three and thre quaters she still hangs onto this relic of babyhood in the car and at night), then said, "Oh, I can't use my pacifier Mummy, my lipstick will come off". I've started to despair that she will ever voluntarily forfiet the paci, but maybe we can trade it for a lipstick?!

The parade entails the kids and teachers, even the infants in the six seater buggies, walking around the center's parking lot for the entertainment of the parents, then playing out in the yard in costume while the parents and teachers socialize. The prevalence of the Disney princess costume (at least seventy percent of the preschool girls), or the superhero outfit complete with fake muscle chest (ditto the boys) was mildly disturbing, but I don't think I would want our preschool to go as far as the one my friends daughter attends, which advises the parents "No gender stereotype costumes. Home made costumes strongly encouraged!".

They would no doubt have frowned very strongly on the costume worn by our school's receptionist; she was in a custom made black latex catwoman outfit, complete with whip, and looked quite fabulous, if rather gender stereotyped! After all Halloween is supposed to be fun, and frilly dresses (and latex bodysuits) are fun. In fact I pulled out an old bridesmaid dress and did myself up as a generic "Princess" to get in the spirit. The dress was from my dear friend followthatdog's wedding, and I apologize here for using the lovely dress for a costume, but really, when else will I ever wear a lovely, long, purple velvet and chiffon gown?!

The next Halloween event was a morning gathering at a playground, where Geekygirl took along the Fancy Nancy dress, and showed it to a few other kids, but for some reason wouldn't actually wear it. Then in the evening we had our neighbourhood party, very civilised, wine and food for parents, bounce house for kids, followed by trick of treating at local businesses and houses on the main drag. For this occasion Geekygirl decided to wear her Disney Belle princess dress from our dress up box, and despite Geekyboy's protests of "No, No puppy Hah woo leeen" I forced him to dress up too, calling him the "beast" to our "Beauty", and he suffered the indignation admirably.

We live in a wonderful neighbourhood with lots of young children, many of whom I know from my two maternity leaves but rarely have time to see these days, so these gatherings are a lovely way to catch up with old friends and exclaim about how much our little ones have grown. The evening was beautiful and almost balmy, clear with a full moon, and some of the sycamore trees on the trick or treat route had even started to shed golden leaves, giving a true fall atmosphere without the bitter cold. Evenings like this make me want a better camera, I mentally captured several shots of our kids, faces lit up by the glow of jack o lanterns, silhouetted against the San Francisco skyline; laughing and leaping between the graffitied planters under the billboards in our "urban park", but I guess words will have to do.

2 comments:

Iota said...

Wow, I'm glad I don't send my kids to your friend's preschool. "No gender stereotypes" - that's an oppressive regime.

And you're so right re Fancy Nancy. Girly fluff for kids and educational vocab for the parents. Perfect combo!

Frances said...

If you get to the point when you realize that going to a Halloween superstore is actually costly, you could always opt for DIY costumes and make up or browse through online shops.

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