I like my kids' new school, I really do. I like the teachers, I like the administration, I like that it’s less than fifty yards from my house, I like the activities they offer, I like the parent involvement, I like that the other kids have been welcoming and kind.
What I do NOT like, however, is this school’s freaky obsession with costumes. And any extra-curricular or academic activity that brings about a need for costumes. Costumes that parents – specifically, UN-CREATIVE parents like me – have to provide. Does anyone realize this stress this causes me? And why does it keep happening?
Our first week of school here, literally, the very first week, they had their annual school-wide Vocabulary Day, where every single student in the entire school was assigned a different, grade-appropriate vocabulary word. Each student was to put together a costume that represented that word, then take part in a parade, before standing in front of their classmates -- in their costume -- to read the definition.
In theory? A terribly cute idea. But for a mom who hadn’t even unpacked half her household belongings, let alone had any idea where the craft stuff was, it was way too much pressure right off the bat.
Kellen’s word was “decillion”. Do you know what a decillion is? No? I didn’t either. I was quickly told a decillion is a one, with thirty-three zeroes after it. Never mind that we were still eating off paper plates because I hadn’t unpacked dishes, and that we’d all been wearing the same underwear for three days because I hadn't found the laundry soap, I needed to drop everything and come up with a costume for decillion. In hindsight, I should have just made him stand up straight and made a tail with thirty three paper rings, but at the time, I completely panicked. Fortunately, his teacher took pity on me and made him a sign to wear around his neck that said basically, “I am a Decillion”.
Kendrie’s word was “crazy”. I stuck a Dr. Suess-type hat on her head and sent her off to school. A better example of crazy would have been my face, on a life-size 3-d billboard, with my eyes bugging out and my hair standing on end, but I just didn’t have time.
I don’t even remember what Brayden’s word was because bless her heart, I didn’t even try with a costume. Her teacher sent home a note saying she could be exempt, as a new student, and I took it and ran.
Less than a month later, the gifted program put on a Live Museum, where the kids dress up as certain characters, then “come to life” when a student pushes a sticker on their hand. Kellen had to dress up as a famous Oklahoman, so we went with Johnny Bench and I bought a vintage baseball (read: real wool and itchy!) uniform on ebay. Kendrie was to dress up as a famous author, or one of their characters, so I purchased a Harry Potter costume, also online, and Kendrie described the works of JK Rowling. Sure, I know store-bought (or ebay bought, in this case) is kind of cheating, especially compared to the parents who obviously spent hours and hours working on their kids' costumes …. But remember, I’m the kid who went as a hobo every year for Halloween because I don’t have a creative bone in my body.
Right after the Christmas holidays, the 5th grade held their Colonial Fair, and in addition to making a poster and building a booth and selling your wares, wearing a stinking Colonial Fair outfit made up part of the grade! Thank goodness for online shopping, is all I’m saying, so that Brayden could truly look the part of a young Colonial girl, and not fail 5th grade history just because her mom couldn’t sew a muslim dress and white puffy kerchief hat if my life depended on it.
But the final insult came today, when ALL THREE kids brought home notes that next Friday is the school-wide! Book! Character! Day! With lots of exclamation points!!!!
Each kid is to pick one of their favorite books and write a report about the book … a report they have to read in front of their class, dressed as a character from that book.
Are you kidding me???
Kellen, thank goodness, was willing to recycle Kendrie’s Harry Potter costume from the Live Museum, so that’s one down. Now I just have to refresh his memory of the book for the report.
Brayden had already selected Harriet the Spy without telling me, bless her heart, because she said, “The costume will be easy, Mom, it’s just jeans and a hoodie!” I appreciate her trying, but then we took a good look at the book and realized we also have to get glasses, a tool belt of some sort, and various and sundry spy items to hang from said tool belt. Egads.
And Kendrie, well, I don’t have a clue what she’s going to do. First she wanted to be Clifford, of all things, which I totally don’t understand since she hasn’t read any Clifford books in about four years. Then she wanted to be one of the kids from the Magic Tree House series, which I said was an awesome idea, especially if they ever wore vintage wool baseball uniforms in any of the books, because we could recycle that as well. Maybe I should convince her that her favorite book is Audie Murphy’s “To Hell and Back” and I could recycle Kellen’s book report from last month and have her wear her army costume from Halloween.
Oh, fuck it. She can just go as a hobo.
**And let’s not forget the 4th grade re-enactment of the Sooner Land Rush that takes part later this spring, and the Land-Rush-y costume I have to get for Kellen. What is WITH these people???