I am lame. I am shallow. I am mean and manipulative.
The painful truths are still dangling in the air weeks after I made the solo decision on what my three year old would be for Halloween. My husband shook his head in unmistakable disappointment when I told him the costume choice and he proceeded to rattle off these insults rather easily. Emma would be dressed as a fairy princess. It is every little girl’s dream come true. It seemed like a no brainer. Everyone wins! Unless you happen to be me, or Emma, or my disgruntled husband who knew that this fairy get-up was not his daughter’s idea at all. Not. Even. Close.
Emma really wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I know what you are thinking – didn’t Michelangelo, Donatello and the rest of the Renaissance named reptiles go out with bang circa 97’ along with Bananas In Pajamas Figure Sets? I thought so too, but these sewer dwellers are back with a vengeance and can be seen on Saturday mornings following everyone’s favorite yellow sponge. The commercials for the Ninja Turtles are relentless, bordering on a brainwashing level of intensity and somehow my sweet and dainty daughter was attracted from her very first glimpse. After the fifth or six commercial Emma had made her mind up, and although it was only mid September and the word Halloween hadn’t been uttered by a soul, she announced her costume idea. She wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. She said it would be ‘totally awesome’.
Her enthusiasm was short-lived. My gut reaction was “no way” and the words out of my mouth weren’t very different and sounded a lot like “not in a million years.” I am awful. My husband is right (don’t tell him that though). This was Emma’s first year that she came up with a Halloween costume all by herself without any provocation. I shot down her idea in an instant. Was it because of a control issue of mine? I don’t think so, but it is definitely possible. Am I just a terrible mother? The jury is still out on that and this anecdote isn’t helping my case, but I don’t believe that is the answer either.
After some deep introspection, I think the simple truth lies in some deep-rooted gender programming in my brain. The Ninja Turtle costumes aren’t adorable Halloween costumes for little girls. The big bulky green fabric or cheap plastic mask don’t scream fabulous or make someone say ‘oh my gosh, I could eat her up with a spoon’. The Ninja Turtles are the voice of young rambunctious boys, not delicate girls. Thanks to her male relatives (who are still encouraging the Turtle costume every chance they get), Emma is already infatuated with play fighting and rear naked chokes, she loves dirt under her nails and touching caterpillars and toads, and if my husband has his way, she will enjoy hunting and harvesting wildlife. She is currently a nice mixture of girly-girl and tomboy. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t want her to lose her soft, feminine side completely. Enchanting princesses don’t go around screaming “cowabunga, dude!”
In order to rectify the situation I made subtle suggestions about the ‘totally awesome’ idea of being a fairy princess. My mother-in-law had an old flower girl dress handy and the costume evolved from there. The wings, tiara, jewelry and magic wand were dollar store purchases. The entire costume ended up costing less than five dollars. So maybe my unyielding penny-pinching is to blame for my appalling parenting decision. My frugality coupled with my vain attempt to keep Emma adorable and girly for Halloween photo opportunities is my motivation. Am I really driven by how Emma’s costume will look on Instagram? I admit it – there are puddles deeper than I am.
Emma did make other suggestions for her costume over the past few weeks. She wanted to be a ghost, a baby chick, a pumpkin, a shark, a corn on the cob – all of which are a hundred times better than a Ninja Turtle, but were all dismissed as well. Once I have committed to a costume, there is no turning back. Emma will be the cutest fairy princess this side of the Delaware River. The corn on the cob idea is creative though, I might keep that one in my pocket for next year if she is still interested in going with the farm fresh theme. I suspect that my guilt will weigh rather heavily on me for the next twelve months and Emma’s costume a year from now will truly be whatever she wants and desires. After this year’s selfish debacle, I owe her that much.
Please note that anyone who is familiar with me in real life knows that I would do absolutely anything for my daughter. She is my very reason for existing. She is my heart. Her wish is my command. Unless that wish is to be a stupid Ninja Turtle.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.