Dress-Up and Imaginative Play
When I was growing up, my mom had a pair of lavender (yes, lavender!) heeled sandals that she never wore. They were stored in one of the cabinets above our washing machine. So, of course, my sisters and I managed to find them.
Oh how we loved playing dress-up with them and whatever we could find in our house. We were quite innovative with our imaginative play, acting out whole scenes and making our own checkbooks and even creating our own identities. Somehow I only remember that my sister was called "Casey".
And when Halloween rolled around, we were left to our own devices. We didn't go shopping for costumes every year. We used our imaginations. So one year, my twin and I made a pair of dice out of cardboard boxes. (And, man was I steamed the following year when two kids in our grade copied our costumes and won in our school's Halloween parade contest. It was a small school, so it made me mad.) And one year, I made glitter wings out of poster board so I could re-purpose my first communion dress and be an angel. The last costume I remember making as a child was in 7th grade when I thought I'd go as a 'devil', but again with poster board and glitter, I managed to look like fire instead. Even better!
Fast Forward to now and I still love Halloween. Every year I spend weeks asking my patients what they're going to be. This year was, of course, filled with Star Wars characters, including my Mini-Me Bookworm who dressed up as an Ewok. There has been an uptick in super hero costumes as well as there are so many more characters known to the little ones these days. Of course, there were the requisite princesses as well.
And though I love all the costumes, my favorites are still the homemade ones. At the bookworm girls' school, someone dressed up as boba (the tapioca drink!) and someone dressed up as a headless mad scientist. Love it! And I've made Mini-Me Bookworm a witch (see LL in the witch costume in the gallery above), a peacock with real feathers (because we didn't like any of the peacock costumes for sale that year), her own superhero, and an owl costume (really, WOL for Winnie-the-Pooh day), as well as her Snape cape that we re-purposed into a dementor costume last year. If only she'd let me share the pictures!
For the last three Halloweens, Little Lion Bookworm has chosen to dress up in something that did not have a readily available costume. Truth be told, I wasn't planning on making her costume this year when she told me she was going to be Fuli, the cheetah from the Lion Guard. I told her we could just buy her a costume. It turns out they don't have a specific Fuli costume--masks are available on etsy but that's it. And every single cheetah costume we saw was unacceptable. LL wanted me to make her a cheetah dress. EVEN THOUGH SHE ALREADY OWNS A CHEETAH DRESS! "But, Mommy, your costumes are the best because they are made by you." Well played, LIttle Lion, well played.
In the end, she decided to dress up as Naida, the water elf from the Lego Elves and dragon series. Shocking, I know, since she plays Lego Elves every day. And I don't mean she plays with the Lego bricks--she play-acts Lego Elves stories with her friends. And, more specifically, she wanted the dress that Naida wears in the dragon series. You know, the strapless one? We had a big discussion (argument!) about how six-year-old girls should not be wearing strapless dresses. In the end, we compromised after I brilliantly came up with the idea of using see-through straps. Parenthood? It's the ultimate test of compromise, quick-thinking, and problem-solving. Sometimes, I win.
For the past three Halloweens, LL has wanted to dress up as someone who doesn't have a readily available costume. First it was Periwinkle (Spoiler alert: Tinkerbell's sister), then Zita the Space Girl, and this year Naida. But I don't mind, even though I didn't get to finish putting together my Mary Poppins costume as a result. I just showed up to work in my old standard, Snow White, that I bought one year as a resident when my friend went as Aurora. I can't wait to see what LL comes up with next year! She says she wants to be Buzz Lightyear and she knows we will just buy that one if she still wants to be him next year. Or, I'm going to enlist Mr Bookworm's help and we'll create something awesome with boxes and papier mache. Ever since we bought them, she's been rocking her Buzz Lightyear Vans every day, so who knows? It may stick.
Did you know that dressing up is a milestone? I often ask my patient's parents if their tots are starting to do some sort of pretend play--be it pretending to be a cat, a fireman, a dinosaur, a princess, a jedi, and everything in between. Or even playing around in a toy kitchen and prepping meals for you and their siblings and stuffed friends. So, come on, set your kids free in a creative space to pretend, imagine, dress-up and flex those imagination muscles. Maybe leave a few scarves, necklaces, hats or a pair of lavender heeled sandals lying around and see what they do?