My daughter was born in December.
By the time Halloween came around she was ten months old and running. I accepted that I had given birth to a speedy American and that it was entirely my own fault because I had submitted my pregnant bod to an aerobics instructor course.
I knew that I was allergic to exercise but so many of my new pals were American. All Americans without exception are exercise mad. ‘Just try it! You’ll love it Madz!’ I decided that I would prove everybody wrong, so that they would all leave me and my ever growing bump in peace. The net result was a bouncing baby who still bounces to this day.
I also accepted that we must jump on the consumer band wagon and take part in the ridiculous charade of Halloween. I made her a Ladybird costume in a sleeping bag format, so that I could carry her around safely. As it transpired, she escaped, put her round little feet in each corner and pinged around the neighbourhood like a yoyo.
The following year she had a brother. I put him in the ladybird costume at 4 months. I made a new one for her, a bee costume complete with wings. Fortunately she remained on the ground.
Then I made a new one for her, a dragon costume and moved her younger siblings into the smaller alternatives. I planned to make a new one for the biggest one every year, unisex, attractive and non-commercial. It was the perfect plan.
The perfect plan failed due to a wide variety of variables that I had failed to foresee. I failed to predict that children do not grow in a uniform trajectory. Their little bodies did not remain two to three inches apart in height. All too frequently the boys were more or less the same height. If they were sitting they were often mistaken for twins. Growth spurts and plateaus sometimes left me with triplets. It was exasperating. It was all an evil plot to derail the costume campaign.
I’ll gloss over the sensory issues for now, as it would never do to explain how I had to duct tape my child into his head dress. Suffice to say, that here and now, we enjoy a different reality than we once did.
“Accelerate on ice! Accelerate on ice! Accelerate on ice!” he chants in his robot voice, quoting Ben 10, the latest children’s programme produced specifically to torture parents.
“Yes dear?” I wait for his older brother to gain the power of speech. It is very hard to gain the power of speech if there is a noisy mosquito circling you chanting “Accelerate on ice! Accelerate on ice! Accelerate on ice!” in a very annoying motor mouth voice. He stands still as he hunts for the words whilst he little brother continues to dart and chant.
“You are buy it for me?”
“Buy what dear?”
His eyes are distracted by the cavorting brother, but he manages to get back on track without swatting the mosquito.
“You are buy dah costume for me?”
“Which costume dear?”
“Dah Ben 10 Alien costume.” Hallelujah! He got there. I’m ready.
“Well I already looked online for you and this is the only one I can find.” I guide him to the computer screen to examine the view, a disappointing one, frightfully dull.
“Ahhh oooooo!” he squirms with glee. I look over his shoulder to check that he hasn’t accidentally nudged a button and changed the screen. He hasn’t.
“You are buy for me?” he squeaks his eyes about to burst from his skull.
“Er…..are you sure? Is that really what you want?”
“Yes yes, yes!” he responds immediately with no delay, no stutter and no wriggle room. I look at the screen. “But it’s just a boring old T-shirt with some baggy pants. We could buy something like that from Target. In fact you’ve probably already have a pair of baggy grey pants like that.”
“No, no, no. I need it.”
“It doesn’t come with the shoes you know. Look. See there? ‘Not included.’” He does press ups on the kitchen counter to lock and unlock his arms, lift and drop his feet whilst the words percolate up from somewhere or other.
Whilst I wait for the percolation process to proceed, I think of my pal and her not so little girl. Three years ago her white frock made her into a Princess. The following year that same dress made her into an Angel. This year, that very same dress brushes her mid calf as she is dressed like Princess Lea, now that her hair is long enough to be coiled in two lumps either side of her head. One dress, three years worth of dress up on Halloween. Things are quite different around here, whimsical and extravagant.
I look at my whimsical and extravagant child, even though my own reflection peeks back at me from the computer screen. He doesn’t want to wear something home made and unique. He wants to wear something mass produced, selected to impress his peer group, now that he has one, a peer group that is to say.
N.B. the photographs are by way of a public service announcement = the road ahead for a certain percentage of the population. If you doubt my veracity, you will find that other "mums"
are of the same opinion, but got there "first."
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p.s. [to some] yes we did 'feel' the 5.6 quake. The 'locals' hardly batted an eyelid, but you've never seen two old crumbly aliens move so fast up a flight of stairs! One small female person was seriously rattled but everyone seemed to benefit from the tectonic plates 101 lecture, in between the Nebulizer treatments.
4 hours ago