October is a crazy busy month at our house. Fall field trips for school, music performances and lessons, church youth group activities, after school clubs, boy scout camp outs, and a whole host of projects around the house keep us running nearly nonstop. For some reason, we're busier in October than in any other month of the year, and I almost wonder if I'll even have time to stop and take a breath.
Yet, every October, I volunteer to take on a massive project that makes me (and everyone around me) question my sanity by mid-month: making Hallowe'en costumes for my kids. They have to present me with their final costume choices no later than October 1st, giving me nearly a full month to work on putting them together, and then I devote every spare moment (and some of the hours normally devoted to things like sleeping and eating) to creating the perfect Hallowe'en disguises.
Every once in a while, the kids look at the calendar, analyze the time commitments of the many appointments we have scheduled throughout the month, and take pity on me, choosing simple costumes that require a minimum amount of effort to throw together. We've had princesses (Cinderella was easy, making a custom wig for Rapunzel with a yarn braid long enough to drag on the ground while posing for pictures, but short enough to easily carry with the trick-or-treat bag so my Dear Daughter didn't trip on it was more difficult), several Jedi Knights (basic Jedi costume: easy; creating a padawan braid out of my real hair and finding a way to attach it to my son's close-cropped haircut for an authentic look: a little more challenging). We've also had some dinosaurs, a bride, and a mermaid or two.
Some of the costumes my kids have requested seem simple at first, but are deceptively challenging. Like the time my son (then 4 years old) wanted to be Buzz Lightyear. When he requested it, I readily agreed. I thought it would be the easiest costume ever! Toy Story was immensely popular, and there were Buzz Lightyear costumes everywhere! But, my son didn't want to be like the other Buzz Lightyears out there. He insisted that his costume had to be red and blue, instead of the familiar green and purple. (The pattern I found was much more complicated than it looked in the picture!)
But my favorite costumes to make, ironically, are those that make me want to tear my hair out and scream in frustration before giving up and checking myself into the nearest mental institution. Dear Daughter #2 is good at challenging my creativity when it comes to costume construction. This year, after much thought and consideration, she decided that she wanted to be a Singing, Dancing Cowboy Seahorse. No amount of searching gave me any patterns for seahorse costumes, and I wasn't convinced that I could figure it out. I couldn't even find a pattern that I could alter.
But she was so excited about her costume idea! She told everyone that she was going to be a Singing, Dancing, Cowboy Seahorse, and that I was going to make the perfect costume for her. If I couldn't pull it off, she would be disappointed, and I'd have to swallow my pride and admit defeat. I bought lots of extra fabric, knowing that I might need it in case of failed attempts, and then I spent nearly two full weeks brainstorming ideas (I couldn't figure out the tail - how do you make that big tail that curls from behind without giving her something she's going to trip over all night long?), and I'm excited to announce that the costume was ready just in time for last night's Trunk-or-Treat activity at church!
Every October, as I'm in the midst of constructing the crazy costumes, I have well-meaning friends and family members who tell me that I need to take control of things at home. "You need to lay down the law. Give them a few options to choose from, if you must, but your kids need to learn to choose more traditional costumes. It's not fair for them to expect you to create these crazy things every year. Your time is valuable."
My friends are kind of right. My time is valuable. And it's important to budget that time wisely. But I'm glad my children are willing to step out of the box once in a while. I'm glad they're not afraid to do something different. Wouldn't life be boring if we were afraid to take the time to figure out new ways to do things? I've discovered that I can do so many things I never would have even tried - simply because my children, my husband, my parents, siblings, friends, and acquaintances simply assume I can figure it out. "We really want to (insert major creative project here), but no one knows how to do it." "Oh! Veronica can do that! She's a creative type!"
Sometimes, it drives me bonkers when someone asks me to do something I obviously cannot do... but it's kind of amazing when I try to do it anyway, and almost always discover that I can do more than I thought I could.
And the Singing, Dancing, Cowboy Seahorse costume turned out great :)