Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween is coming...

I have just put the finishing touches to a pirate hat for Max's Halloween costume. It's the first year I've actually managed to make at least part of an outfit for Max. The first year we were here in San Francisco I couldn't get my head round that fact that people dressed up as just about anything at Halloween. Wasn't it all about the undead? Didn't it have to be spooky? Apparently not. I even hosted a party for crawling tots and the guests arrived as ducklings, puppies, bugs and butterflies. Max in a pumpkin outfit was about as scary as it got. The thing is, people buy outfits here - the entire kit. I thought dressing up was about creating something from nothing or at least using a bit of ingenuity; bat wings out of a broken umbrella or a beard out of cotton wool balls. It was a proud moment for me last summer when Max won second prize in a fancy dress competition dressed as a barnacle with an egg box strapped to him like a sandwich board!
But why wouldn't you buy the whole shebang when it cost just $10 for Max's entire jack-o-lantern gear that year, including hat and stylish booties (He won't thank me for those!). I'd actually gone out and bought a swathe of orange fabric and planned for Max to be home-grown but, throw in the felt for the pumpkin face and the velcro I'd have needed when my sewing skills failed me, and I could have bought another costume at least, and that's not even mentioning the agonizing hours of actually making the thing without a pattern or even a clue where to start. So when someone mentioned how cheap the costumes were, and having failed to craft something myself, I went off to the nearest children's shop. By this stage it was pretty close to All Saints Day (I really had been holding out for my make-and-play skills to come the the fore, but alas) so the selection wasn't cute puppy outfits but I think the pumpkin felt more in tune with the Halloween I knew so I was a happy customer. I'm frugal by nature and have since become more eco-concious, but buying that outfit outright just felt like I was cheating. I'm trying to lead a less disposable life and recently heard that of all the stuff we buy, within 6 months we are using just 2% of it. To buy an entire outfit that you'll wear for probably less than 5 hours just seems wrong. So this year I'm trying to strike a balance between having that one-off fun and making something that'll last.
Until a few weeks ago, I still wasn't sure that Max 'got' the whole dressing-up-at-Halloween thing. I had asked him twice what he wanted to be, and both times the answer had been 'pirate'. But still I thought he just wanted to BE a pirate, as if he was answering the question, 'what do you want to BE when you grow up?'. It seemed fairly logical - the pirates in his favourite book don't eat vegetables and are never told to go to bed - Max's dream scenario. But I think the subject has been discussed in the playhouse at preschool because Max is now talking about 'dress up' and since I started on the pirate outfit, he's been switching what he'd like to BE about every hour or so. But for the first time in my child's life I have actually created his outfit. One big incentive is that his preschool have a Halloween party so Max really doesn't have a choice - the 'dress up' is compulsory. But that's my that I've finished the hat, cut out the eye patch, dug out the belts, the bandana, the bracelets it's going to take me a sack load of pieces of eight to get him to put the kit on. I've tried wearing the hat myself; this works for food as he'll eat what's on my plate but not on his own, it doesn't work for hats...I just look silly wearing one that doesn't fit. I've tried just leaving the hat lying around but of course leave things lying around that you DON'T want him to touch and he's got his sticky fingers all over it - the things you DO want him to meddle with, you guessed it, he's nowhere in sight. There's still a week or so to go so I'll have to think of some new tactics - wrap it up as a present? That might work. I'll let you know how it goes. What's Oli going to be? Well he'll be in the pumpkin outfit from 2 years ago, booties and all, sorry little one - but you can be pirate next year I promise.

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