Could that mysterious person be me? Maybe I have a little royalty, wildness, sweetness, . . . or whatever the transformation suggested. We walked around that night, feeling like little strangers to ourselves and to each other. Not sure how to act around those we met, we were a little stilted in our language, so not to pop our amazing new image.
Today, I remembered. I remembered how it felt to hold and hold and hold your hand down so not to smudge your careful makeup. I remembered why Halloween was one of the BEST holidays of the year. It had nothing to do with candy. In fact, our family didn't go trick-or-treating. It had everything to do with trying on a new identity for an evening . . . feeling beautiful, daring, or funny.
I remembered when my wild Sunshine walked carefully down the stairs holding her skirts with a prim yet self conscious smile. I remembered as she told Sarah Jane on the way to preschool, "I am a pwincess and pwincesses don't act like THAT." I marveled at the shy and dainty change in behavior her dress and make up wrought.
I remembered when my other two stood, turning their heads in the mirror. "I don't know which of us looks better." Ladybug said proudly. "I'll bet the party has some sort of prize for the best family costumes."
At the party, dozens of children I love tromped by me in groups and separately to grab a doughnut hanging from a string or to have me paint their face. Each child positively preened as I mentioned how strong, scary or beautiful they looked.
As the 50 plus children paraded around the gym, I watched the different ways they expressed their joy in their "new self." Some held their skirts primly. Others tried not to smile. Some couldn't help it and laughed and twirled. Then, they began to announce "winners" of the costume contest.
Oh please don't do this!!! How can you pick when you see the looks on these children's faces? They all know they are something special tonight. Don't ruin it!
My children stood in front of the announcer till the very last prize was announced, certain if they just waited long enough, their name would be called.
Later, at home, Ladybug wondered why the witch or blown up Sumo wrestler got a prize. He was all plastic, with no makeup, nor was he elegant or tough.
I thought about giving a lecture about sour grapes or being glad for others. "Well, that's life. You rarely win. It's not important that others recognize you."
Then I rethought. "What is wrong with wanting to be recognized? With feeling amazing and wanting others to notice? As a matter of fact, I notice you. I see your beauty. I can do something about this."
My gift box produced some sparkly barrettes that were waiting for just such a purpose. I picked a pair for each of my winners and quickly created their prize. One was presented during a final rush of homework, another to a dripping baby just out of the shower, and a final one to an almost sleeping winner. "I won? For my elegance? (or good manners, best dancing)" Did you think that about me?"
"I certainly did." I replied.
Smiles like watermelon slices lit three faces. Costumes were put carefully away for the next Halloween party. Hugs and kisses were doled out. I wished that I could go to each darling child's house and tell them why they were amazing tonight.
- You can't tell me what we wear doesn't affect how we act.
- It's OK to feel beautiful.
- I've got to help my little ones not rely on the judgements of others for their happy thoughts.
- AND, while I'm at it, I'll give myself an award. (I didn't win either.) Way to get dressed up with three little kids all by yourself while bottling applesauce, making dinner and helping with homework. You are a fun mom. AND, you really made lots of kids happy tonight.