Many moons ago, when motherhood hadn't completely hardened my soul and sucked out my spirit, I made a rookie mothering mistake. I brought in the mail on an afternoon in early September and casually threw it on an end table, within reach of a child's sticky fingers.
Within minutes, I heard a cacophony of shreiking and clapping and chatter.
"Mommy!" the girls squealed, thundering into the kitchen like little Seabiscuits.
"We found them! We found them! The perfect Halloween costumes!" They waved a costume catalog -- purloined from the pile of mail of the end table -- in front of my face. My heart sank into my bowels.
Never, ever, set mail on an end table in September without scouring it beforehand and disposing of the Halloween costume catalogs immediately and ruthlessly. Because if you don't, your children will find those little fuckers in record speed -- it's like kids have some kind of Costume Catalog Echolocation or something.
And they will always -- always! -- gravitate immediately to the most overpriced catalog in the pile. The catalog that should be titled: Wallet Suckage.
Wallet Suckage does, indeed, carry darling and inventive costumes for your little goblins to choose from. For a stupefying amount of money. I mean, your kid is going to wear this costume for one day a year -- there's no way you should ever pay more than, like, five bucks for a Halloween costume, and Wallet Suckage wants 87 dollars for a Magical Ice Queen costume (not including the fancy hat or the white gloves or the sparkly mask -- those are extra).
A Magical Ice Queen costume that Miss D. now had her heart completely set on.
"I found one too, Mommy," said Miss M. pumping her wee arms and legs up and down in excitement. "Look!"
I had no idea what I was looking at. Some purple and black be-feathered and be-ribboned confection that, inexplicably, included a set of pointy ears.
"What is that?" I said.
"It's a combination! It's a bat and a witch put together! Isn't that neat?"
At 68 bucks, not including the feathery gloves and the bat wings, I wasn't thinking it was so neat.
I dragged out my wallet, ordered the costumes and cried a little at my own stupidity.
I also vowed to never, ever, toss the mail on an end table in September without plowing through it first.
Two hundred bucks (shipping, you know) and a few days later, the box from Wallet Suckage arrived. The girls were wild with excitement and couldn't stop talking about their costumes. Every shopkeeper, grocery clerk and passerby the girls came into contact with knew, in excruciating detail, their Halloween plans. And since we ordered the costumes in early September, this went on for weeks.
A few days before Halloween, Miss D. was sitting in her third grade classroom, working on a math drill. The classroom was quiet and the kids were busy at work when my daughter suddenly looked up from her assignment and said boisterously, "Hey, Mrs Lewis! Guess what? My sister's gonna be a BITCH for Halloween!"
Bat. Witch. BITCH. Get it?
Mrs. Lewis, bless her, has a great sense of humor and when she called me on her lunch hour, we howled and howled.
"You could tell that D. didn't know what that word meant," Mrs. Lewis chortled, "but some of the kids did, and they gave me this look like, 'Uh, whaddaya gonna do about that, Mrs. Lewis?'"
"Oh God, I'm so sorry," I said.
"Are you kidding?" she said. "Best thing to happen all year."
Fast forward four years.
The BITCH now has Mrs. Lewis as her third grade teacher. In August, when I found out that we'd hit the teacher lotto and scored Mrs. Lewis for round two of third grade, I emailed her a note:
"The BITCH and I are so excited to spend this year with you!"
Now, the Bitch costume has long been retired to Goodwill, but now that Miss M. is in third grade, guess what I'm thinking?
The Magical Ice Queen costume! We still have it and Miss M. can fit in it now, so that's awesome! I'll get at least another wear out of that ridiculous, over-priced sucker! Score!
Except for one leeetle problem.
When I pulled out the Magical Ice Queen costume, twirled it around for Miss M. to see and said, "Remember when D. wore this costume? I held onto it so you could wear it, too! Isn't it lovely?" Miss M. took one look at it and said, "I'm not wearing that."
"But, it's so cool looking!" I sputtered.
She stared at me stonily.
"It's got these sparkly snowflakes on the cape," I showed her. "And a hat with ribbons."
"I don't like sparkly things," she said. "Or dresses."
This happens, unfortunately, to be true. Miss M. is about the most un-girly girl in the world. She loathes dresses and will not wear ribbons in her hair and she has never, not once in her life, ever played with a doll.
"But it's Halloween," I said. "You're supposed to go as something different from who you really are -- it's kind of like that SpongeBob episode 'Opposite Day!'"
Never underestimate the power of a SpongeBob reference.
She narrowed her eyes and scrutinized the dress. "The top part of it looks like it's itchy."
As luck would have it, the top part actually is itchy.
I know this for a fact because four years ago, Miss D. came down with the costume in hand and said, "I can't wear this. It's itchy."
And I said, "I'll get you an undershirt to wear under it but get back upstairs and put that costume on right this minute, because it was one hundred bucks."
Miss M. glowers and shakes her head. "I'm not wearing that."
"Are you sure? Why don't you just try it on, just to see?"
"Forget it, mom," she said. "No way am I being an Ice Queen. Queens are stupid things to be for Halloween. The only thing stupider than a queen is a princess, which is, like, the stupidest thing ever."
Damn. She sort of has a point.
"Put that costume back in the box," she said. "Besides, I already asked dad and he said he'd get me the costume I want."
Anyone need an Ice Queen costume?