I admit it. I was hesitant. I thought that they should be wearing their costumes only at home and for certain “costume appropriate” occasions. But I’ve come around as they frequently dive into their costume bin from grandma and friends who keep sending us hand me down costumes. I mean, when is a costume NOT appropriate? After all, don’t we all wear a costume every single day? To quote one of my all time favorite human beings, Little Edie, “This is the best costume for the day”.
Who the hell was I to stand in their way if they wanted to wear their costumes out in public? Well, we’ve jumped in. Full wig, hat, boots, tights, cape IN.
The kids had a two week break from preschool, because BOY DO THEY EVER NEED A BREAK FROM THE DEMANDS OF PRESCHOOL, so we had more outings than we usually do – and we are never hurting for outings. We saw a couple early morning $5 movies – Boss Baby (loved!) which required capes and masks for some reason, and Beauty and the Beast (love loved!) which of course demanded Belle and Beast costumes.
Everywhere we go lately in costume, people look. This is not new when you have twins because people always look. People want to chat. I quite enjoy it. But with these costumes lately, it’s something different. It’s unexpected and people point, whisper and catch my eye and give me a great big grin. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was awesome. I mean, anytime we can get to smiling these days, isn’t that a miraculous thing?
We went to the Garfield Park Conservatory last week. It’s through the Chicago Park District and it’s FREE with a suggested donation and it’s just stunning for all our senses. There’s a kids area and it’s a place where kids and adults can explore and touch and smell and get dirty and just enjoy the warm, humid air.
We’d adventured through the whole conservatory, saying hello to the fish and getting pricked by the cacti and then stopped to have a snack. Afterwards, the kids wanted to go back to the big kids slide area one last time so they led the way. When I caught up with them, they were both looking at me a little funny and then I saw the girl up on top of the slide. She was probably 16 or so, but clearly she was disabled (a kind reader corrected me when I had previously stated she was a “different kind of perfect” as that was diminishing her as a person – teachable moments!). I saw her caregiver at the bottom of the stairs encouraging her to go down the slide.
I said a big hello to both of them. I walked with my kids up the stairs to the top of the slide and we waited our turn just like we always do on the slide. Only the girl wasn’t going down the slide and she was just looking at us. I say, “hello” and the kids say, “hello can we have a turn please?” and then my kids start getting antsy about going down the slide. “Why isn’t she going down the side? We want a turn.”
Her caregiver finally gets her to go down the slide and then she’s having a hard time getting up at the bottom. I rushed down to help pull her to her feet and we all watch my kids come down the slide. It’s quiet. My kids aren’t sure how to proceed, but they look at the girl to see if she’s coming with them and then they all head up the stairs again.
This time the girl really isn’t having it. She doesn’t want to go down the slide, but she doesn’t really want my kids to go down either. Something is preoccupying her. My daughter had been using her witch hat from her costume she was wearing as a “sled” in the slide and it made it more fun going down for each kid. This girl on top of the slide pointed at her hat. She wanted to try it. HOORAY! We gave her the hat and she zoomed down the slide to her caregiver and we all laughed.
The caregiver said, “I don’t know how I would’ve gotten her down if she didn’t use that witches hat!” with a wink and a smile. My girl blushed and my boy flapped and said “you are welcome.”
I’m so thankful to that caregiver who engaged us and let me help. Let our kids help. I’m so thankful to that girl on the slide for showing us that we ALL like the slide and finding new ways to fly down.
We talk a lot about race, size, language and acceptance in our home. Hate has no home here. But I’m always grateful for learning in action, in the doing, instead of just talking or reading or watching about it. I’m grateful for the interaction and the experience. I’m grateful for the people willing to engage in teachable moments. I try to teach that we don’t ignore differences, we embrace them. The more difficult thing is to live that. We celebrate what makes us special. And then we look for the similarities. Most of us are alike in certain ways if we look for it.
One point I always try to add on is the whole if you ever see or hear someone being unkind or making fun of someone, you step in. You tell us. We will work it out. We are all responsible.
We all said our goodbyes and in the car on the way home we had a conversation about this girl and why she was so big but didn’t act like a big kid. We talked about how she was born that way and that doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy the same things we all do.
“Like the slide!”
“Yes, like the slide. And your witches hat, Bebe!”
“You know how you flap when you get excited? She made those noises because she was excited. We are all different and yet, kind of alike, right? We just express our delight in different ways and that’s pretty awesome and nothing to be afraid of.”
“She really liked our costumes I think.”
“I think she really did, buddy.”
“You know how we are really different kids under our costumes. Well, that girl was a different girl under her outside. Maybe we will see her again next time and we can wear a different costume to show her.”
They have a better grasp on this stuff than I could ever anticipate sometimes.
As with everything in parenting, I stumble. I don’t always have the right words. These two challenge me to put into words what I practice and practice what I put into words. I was taught to love people. The way we treat people matters. The way we view people and talk about people and carry ourselves even when we step away matters. Not because god is watching, but because these kids are. That’s how we change the world.
As long as we lead with love, we will be ok. As long as we don’t let fear dictate how we treat people, we will be fine. We will be good.
So, yes. We will be wearing the costumes, within reason, while out and about and trying our best to save the day in whatever small way we can. Even if it’s really silly looking. Wear the costumes, save the day. NEW MOTTO.
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