A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Giraffe costume

giraffe costumegiraffe costume
giraffe costume

When my kids weren’t yet old enough to know what an internet browser was, let alone to worry about their image on social media, I used to post about them with impunity.  After a certain point, that seemed unfair, so I granted them veto power.  Now the twins are eleven -- and I find myself writing my first kid-requested blog post. 
This tale is about Halloween.  I’ve mentioned Halloween before.  I’m strongly in favor.  http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2011/11/boo.html  But, more specifically, this tale is about a giraffe costume.
In other households – or so I imagine -- kids want to be ninjas or superheroes.  They decide this sometime around October 30th.  Parental responsibility includes either a last-minute trip to buy something pre-printed on brittle, scratchy nylon, or frantic rummaging through boxes of old clothes.  In our house, however, Halloween involves multiple fabrics, hot glue, paint, pens, cardboard, pipe cleaners, yarn, elastic, ribbons, wire coat hangers, old wigs, a seventy-year-old sewing machine, and eons of lead time. 
Thus, it was September when Molly made an important announcement: “I’m going to be a giraffe.”
“Um… okay...”  Inwardly, I sighed. This sounded even more difficult than past efforts.  Sure, we’d done some mammals over the years (mouse, bear, cow, hare).  We’d managed a marsupial (kangaroo), an amphibian (tortoise), an insect (ladybug), and even a member of the phylum Cnidaria (jellyfish).  Nonetheless, a giraffe seemed like a tall order (pun blatantly intended).   Last I’d checked, Molly didn’t have a six-foot-long neck. 
“A REALISTIC giraffe,” Molly added.
I filed this in my “to do sometime safely in the future” mental bin, perfectly ready to procrastinate.  But my kids were having none of it. 
“We need to get going on making costumes,” Molly reminded me at the beginning of October, a note of anxiety in her voice.  When I told her there was still plenty of time, she shook her head.  “I want to win the costume contest at school,” she explained.  She said it earnestly, without a trace on egotism.  Molly isn’t a pushy kid or a grandstander.  She was simply stating a life goal.  “This is really important to me.”
Lizzy’s proposed cat costume sounded a trifle more manageable than the lanky ungulate, although she, too, wanted it to look realistic.  No black sweatsuit paired with paper-triangles-glued-on-a-headband for her.   She was going for the full meow.
So we went to JoAnn’s fabric.  There, thankfully, we found relatively cheap giraffe-print fleece, fake fur, and a speedy employee at the cutting table.  We headed home with our fuzzy haul.

The remainder of this story might involve parental frustration, childish demands, and impossible tasks pawned off on me.  But… it doesn’t. 
I did end up sewing a good deal of the cat costume, because the fur was thick and hard to coax through my antique Singer.  However, Lizzy designed her cat, worked with me at every step, and made no complaints.  The result was simple, warm, and cuddly.  She was pleased from the tips of her fuzzy ears to the end of her furry tail.
As for Molly, she was adamant that she wanted no help – no help at all. 
At the start, she did a brief Google search for giraffe costumes, and scrolled through the image results critically.  “None of them are very good,” she said.
“None of them?” I looked over her shoulder.  “Well, it’s pretty hard to look like a realistic giraffe…”
“Mine will be better,” she reassured me.
I did not find this calming.  “Your costume will be better than any giraffe costume that anyone has ever made?”
She thought about this.  “Well, would every giraffe costume ever made show up in this search?”
Ever eager to offer advice about online privacy, I quickly explained the difference between public internet pages, advertising, blogs, public Facebook posts, and private Facebook posts.  I explained how a search engine such as Google sorts images via associated text and tags.  “So,” I concluded, “if I posted a picture of your costume to my blog, and tagged it as ‘giraffe costume’, then yes, anyone could find that image.”
“Okay,” she said.  “If it turns out good, and I win the contest, then can you put it on your blog, please?  And tag it, please, so that other people can find it?”
“Yes,” I said.  “Of course.”
She designed her costume.  She did all the cutting, sewing, taping, glueing, molding, and trimming.  She set the zipper herself.  She – after finding out that they were called “ossicones” -- made her very own set of ossicones. 

And she won the school contest. 

She gave away the prize (a stuffed toy) to a younger child who wanted it more ardently, returning home with nothing but a few pieces of candy, a giraffe costume carefully packed up in a plastic bag, and an expression of deep and abiding contentment.

Giraffe costume.

cat costume

realistic cat costume

I wasn't sure whether Molly remembered requesting this blog post, but the morning after Halloween, on our walk to the school bus stop, she asked me, "Did you put pictures of our costumes online?"  I assured her that I had -- then realized that her question had been expressed in the plural.  Costumes.  Thus, this addendum. 

Cat costume.