Costume Crisis

July 26, 1999

At approximately 8:50 this evening Chuck walked into my office and informed me that we have a crisis on our hands: It's Cowboy Day at school tomorrow, and the kids are supposed to dress up. He wanted to know if we had a cowboy hat that would fit Zoe. And, did she have cowboy boots?

My answers: no and no.

We have a bandana but that was the closest thing we had to anything that was remotely western.

I might add that when this crisis arose I was in my robe, already showered (I do it with Zoe before her bedtime now), really tired, and preparing for an early night to bed.

I sat for a moment and thought back to my own childhood, got up, got dressed, and drove to Toys 'R' Us in search of western gear.

When I was a kid my mother never had it together. Halloween costumes were always a last minute affairs (perhaps it's the reason I hate Halloween to this day), she never helped me hem my gym uniform or sew my name on the back, she never helped me with Brownie projects, nor did she help me sew on my badges. Stuff would get done eventually but rarely, if ever, the first day it was due, like all the other girls. I was always embarrassed.

As an adult I understand her situation a little bit better. She was very young, a single mother with three children, and a full time job. She had her hands full. Still, I always thought she should have made the time. Perhaps if she was more organized (she was incredibly disorganized to my youthful eyes).

I always swore I would have it together for Zoe when it came to things like that. Her Halloween costumes have been purchased (via catalogue after much debate) and delivered by no later than mid-September the last two years. I would be a girl scout troop leader if she wanted to do that. When it was Make Fruit Salad Day at school I was certain she went to school with three peaches. There was plenty of bread for her when they went to feed the ducks.

How could I fail her on Cowboy Day? I would have been failing myself as well.

In Chuck's defense, we do have a school calendar that outlines all the events, day by day, for the summer session. But I only use that calendar as a guideline anymore. One the aforementioned Fruit Salad Day I sent Zoe to school with her peaches, only to find that Fruit Salad Day had been postponed. The school calendar also says that swimming lessons are at 10:00 each day. Well, they're at 2:30, furthering my argument that the calendar is merely a guideline.

Anyway, off to Toys 'R' Us I went. There I found only cowboy outfits, no cowgirl outfits. I remarked to the sales person that this was incredibly sexist, but since I'm not even certain he spoke English this was lost on him. I grabbed the deluxe seven piece cowboy outfit: chaps, vest, belt, hat, bandana, sheriff's badges, and lasso. I also found a pony for her. One of those pony-heads on a stick. The one I chose is white with a purple bridle (or reins, or whatever the hell the thing that you hold onto is called), since purple is Zoe's favorite color. And the coolest thing about the horse is that when he pinch his ear he whinnies, snorts, and makes other horse-ish kind of noises.

When I came home I showed Chuck all the stuff I got for her. Two problems arose: Zoe was still awake, and Chuck did not realize the thing about pinching the ear and did it. The horse proceeded to make all sorts of horse noises. When I went in to tell Zoe to go to sleep she asked what all the noise was. I asked her what she thought it was and she told me it sounded like a horse. I told her the neighbors must have gotten a horse. I didn't want her to see all her booty until the morning, for a really big surprise. She bought the neighbor story.

When she got out of bed five minutes later and was wandering through the dining room before she got busted and ran back to bed, she asked Chuck what the horse head was, so he showed her the horse. He told me he had visions of the Godfather going through his head so he had to show it to her.

She doesn't believe that you're supposed to ride on the stick and pretend you're riding a horse (as both Chuck and I demonstrated, with much flair) but she does like all the noise it makes. She assured us that she will share it with her classmates tomorrow.

Did I go a bit overboard getting her all this stuff? I mean, she's only three and she'll be completely over the top with all this stuff that none of the other kids will have probably. Fights will break out over the horse. There will be tears.

I talked to Chuck about it. Perhaps I'm overcompensating for all the things my mother didn't do for me but I count us very fortunate that we can do these things for her.

She'll probably never remember this. But I'll never forget.

Until next time. . .