(WARNING: This one is a bit PG-13, and I question my own judgment for posting it)
I am a tremendous fan of the homemade Halloween costume.
Nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than a hand-painted cardboard-box Sponge Bob atop a set of child’s legs standing at my door pleading with me to hand over one of my fun-sized Snickers bars.
And the 6-year-old home-grown hobo will always win the last Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup buried in the bottom of my emergency back-up bowl of candy with which I am usually reluctant to part.
So when my oldest daughter decided she wanted to create her own costume for the Junior High Halloween Dance, I was elated, though I don’t know why.
I remembered constructing some of my own costumes as a kid – a ladybug that ended up looking more like a polka-dotted hunchback, an M&M package constructed out of a garbage bag that simply resembled a garbage bag – and yet, for some reason, had complete faith that my child, my spawn, my own precious offspring would be capable of creating a beautiful (or, at least, recognizable) version of the Queen of Hearts, complete with a hand-designed Queen of Hearts t-shirt, a red tutu, and striped leggings.
Not only did I have faith, I left her home alone with a new white T-shirt and an arsenal of pink puff paint pens while I made a quick trip to the grocery store.
As I cruised through the produce aisle debating what to serve with the carrots and zucchini I had just thrown in my cart, my cell phone rang.
“MOM!” my dear daughter cried, “I MESSED UP MY SHIRT!”
I walked past a basket of French bread in the bakery and proceeded to the donut case so I could focus.
Zeroing in on a row of Long John’s, I tried to calm down my firstborn. “Honey,” I said, “it’s okay. I can help you fix whatever it is you messed up.”
Sob, heave. “No you can’t!” she wailed. “It’s really bad!”
I took a quick glance around the store and decided to move along so as not to draw attention to the drama unfolding.
“Sweetie,” I tried to reassure her, “I promise I can help you. Did you smear the hearts? We can even it out. I’m a pro with the puff paint.”
“You can’t fix it!” She continued to sob, “I really messed it up!”
“Did you mess up the ‘Queen’ part?”
More crying. “Yes, but it’s REALLY BAD!”
“Honey, we can fix – “
“BAD, Mom, it’s REALLY bad!”
“Babe, the shirts are $2.98 at Target,” I tried to reason. “I’ll treat you to a new one if I can’t fix it.”
Some silence. This was promising. “Okay,” she squeaked out.
“BUT IT’S REALLY BAD!”
We hung up, and I found myself in front of the bratwurst, which was beginning to sound like a good choice. Especially considering I was potentially looking at a trip to Target and would likely need something quick and easy for dinner.
But I never got that far in my thought process. For as soon as I started weighing out the merits of turkey sausage, my phone buzzed again.
Three texts, all photos, all from my daughter.
The first was an ultra-close-up of a bit of smeared pink paint on white cotton.
No big deal, I laughed to myself, I’ve seen bigger messes on permanent tattoos.
The next shot was pulled back slightly, where one of the hearts was close to the smudge mark near the first “e” in “Queen.”
Hmmm, a little more challenging, but we’ll just throw a little red puff paint on it and no one will know any different.
But the final shot confirmed all of my daughter’s fears. Not only had she smeared some paint, but she had free-hand designed a shirt not fit for a girl to wear anywhere within eyeshot of a blossoming teenage boy --- much less to a dark cafeteria full of them.
Yep, messed up.
And that is how I ended up at Target two days before the Halloween party, buying up all the white t-shirts they had in stock and a new tube of puff paint. I'll save this one for her bachelorette party someday. Until then, I'm going to oversee all DIY projects myself.