Friday, October 20, 2000

Playing dress-up

If I needed any evidence that I’m an inadequate mother, it’s come in the form of Cinderella Day at my kids’ school. Some bright-eyed educator came up with the idea of celebrating Cindy by letting everybody dress up in some form of fairy-tale finery. The elaborateness required was nonspecific, so I figured maybe we’d go to Burger King the day before and pick up some cardboard crowns with our Whoppers. But then I got to talking with a mom of a kindergardener during library duty, and it turns out the kindergardeners are going to town. One mom bought a $60 costume, another spent $40, and now pressure is on the kindergarden moms to outfit their baby girls right.

Will the 3rd grade moms of my daughter’s classmates be so insane? Will the parents of kids in my son’s small special-ed class? Will my little ones be the only peasants in rags among all the princes and princesses? Do I care?

No, which of course is the problem.

I’m just not a costume mom. I’m not busily making their Halloween outfits. We haven’t even decided what they’re going to be. Last year my daughter was a ghost, wearing a sheet with holes, and I even screwed that up; she couldn’t walk in it, and the eyeholes kept slipping out of place. As for Cinderella Day, who needs it? Can’t they just get dressed, go to school, and learn without accessories?

It’s bad enough that today is picture day, and I had trouble putting together ensembles glamorous enough even for that. My daughter has a couple of skirts and a couple of shirts to go with them that she alternates for church, but no dresses that are nice for pictures but not to restrictive for recess. No cool-weather dresses at all, come to think of it. And shoes--her best dress shoes are an old pair of suede lace-ups that had been sitting in the back of my closet unworn for years. We share a shoe-size now. Too bad she’s too skinny for my dresses.

So she’s going the casual top-and-skirt route, and will probably be surrounded by kids in full finery. My son will be wearing what he wears to school every day, a crew-neck shirt and cords, because he doesn’t have proper dress-up clothes either, and I’m not going to buy some for one day a year. Besides, he’d just suck on the shirt collar and look like a rumpled mess. Might as well be a rumpled mess in something comfortable.

Fortunately, I did see some kids running around in jeans and sweatshirts when I dropped the kids off this morning, so neither of mine will likely be picked out of the picture as the one with the mother who doesn’t know how to dress them for picture day. And that bodes well for Cinderella Day, too. Why go to all the effort of elaborate costumery unless you’re sure that everyone else will be fairy-tale-perfect, too? The only thing worse than being the only one who isn’t dressed up is to be the only one who is.

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