Most of my regulars know I’m married to a costume designer. My youngest son always loved the idea of costumes, and for years, changed outfits several times a day. Here is an example of one of my son’s designs: a lovely number, featuring a painted jacket, tape measure, cowboy boots, and gladiator helmet.
And here he is in the ruby slippers he pretty much lived in until he outgrew them. (Jacket by Mr. H.)
But I’ll leave you with a little Halloween story featuring my older son, Bach-Boy.
When our boys were small and we still imagined there was an ideal way to raise them, one of our bright ideas was a weapons ban. We did not buy toy guns, not even if they were filled with water. We did not buy swords made of plastic or foam. We did not encourage violence or stereotypical male roles in any way. And even if our children received these types of toys at birthday parties, we lovingly told them that our family did not believe in violent weapons being used as toys, and we gave their gifts to Good Will.
Eventually, however, we gave in and introduced our children to weapons. I blame The Spice Girls.
Between the joyful moments of raising small kids – was it just me? – were hours of unfathomable boredom. Sometimes I bought Happy Meals to see if a cheap toy would buy me 15 minutes of freedom. Inevitably, they tired of the cheap toy, and I was back to watching the clock, desperate for Mr. Henderson to come home. I longed for him to walk through the door so I could feel the relief of blowing up at someone. And then I’d guilt him into feeding and amusing the boys the rest of the night while I retreated to the bedroom, where I could go out of my mind in private.
And then I remembered the crap gifts sent by one of their godfathers—a dear, but with suspect taste. We kept his gifts merely for sentimental reasons.
“Boys,” I said. “Would you like to listen to—THE SPICE GIRLS?”
I announced it in a way that hinted at great mystery and excitement, like when I asked them if they’d like Slim Pickings for lunch or Magic Shampoo in the bath. They didn’t know what the Spice Girls were, but they sure wanted them now.
I found the CD at the bottom of the rack. It was still in the plastic wrap—perfect! The opening of the cellophane and its glorious crinkling just added to the anticipation. It beat thinking up games and pretending to enjoy playing them.
“Want me to CRANK IT UP?”
I slid the disk into the stereo as Bach-Boy unfolded the CD cover, eyeing the girls in shiny minis and platform sneakers. I figured the boys would find, by the first song, that this was no gift at all. I was already straining to think up the next time filler. But to my surprise, the boys were soon jamming. They danced round and round the couch. I joined them.
We hit repeat every time we finished a good song and danced on the couch with the stuffed animals. The Spice Girls took us all the way to dinner and Mr. Henderson coming home to find us thrilled and exhausted.
Bach-Boy sat on the bottom stair and announced: “I know what I want to be for Halloween.”
Halloween was a month away, but Mr. Henderson took requests early so he could sew the costumes from scratch. He was very proud of this – sewing little outfits, then watching the kids win cash prizes at costume parties.
He bent down by the step. I listened behind him.
“I’ll give you a hint,” Bach-Boy said. “I want a hat with dots. And….” He made a grand, swooping gesture with his hands, as if it were a huge feather sprouting from the hat. “And really tall shoes.”
Mr. Henderson was puzzled. “How about another hint?” he said.
I chimed in. “A Spice Guy?” I looked at my husband. “Godfather Andrew,” I said.
Bach-Boy did the same dance we’d been doing. But it looked different this time. Too much GIRL POWER.
One of the many courses Mr. Henderson taught at the university was Make-Up. But when he saw how much the boys enjoyed my dolling them up on a particularly long day, he made a weird face and asked me to please call it war paint. He made the same face as he pulled me into the kitchen.
“You might not understand this, but can you let me do something?”
“Sure,” I said.
“It’s about the weapons ban.”
“You mean our agreement never to let our boys play with pretend weapons, or I’ll stop sleeping with you?”
“I just want a little leeway,” he said. “That’s all. Please?”
“A little leeway. But careful you don’t become a Republican.” He knew I’d never sleep with a Republican.
Mr. Henderson grinned and returned to Bach-Boy, who was now joined by his brother on the bottom stair.
“You can be a Spice Girl if you want.”
“You can both be pirates and I’ll buy you BIG SWORDS!”
Swords it was. We promised.
Bach-Boy had just one more question: “Is it okay if I dress up like a Spice Girl around the house?”
Thanks to everyone who answered the Question of the Week, and to John Warner for playing Top 5 with us, and to those who linked to LitPark this week: Emerging Writers Network, Jennifer Prado, JacketFlap.com, Curious Distractions, Laura Benedict’s Notes from the Handbasket, Tow Books, and Robin Slick’s In Her Own Write. I appreciate those links!
Oh, and P.S., How sweet is this? More art for my office! This came in the mail yesterday from my awesome pal, Brian McEntee.