April 18, 2014
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
Last week the weather became mild enough that I could send Five to school in a dress. I chose one that I feel looks exceptionally cute on her. It’s a simple A-line with pink and light gray vertical stripes, and a red heart and silver crown adorn the chest. Five didn’t look too thrilled about the dress—she has her own favorites—but I tried to distract her by pointing out the crown.
As I helped both girls get ready for school, Five said, “I have a crown on my dress.”
“That’s right,” I said, pleased that she was warming up to it.
“That means I’m a princess. No, wait, I’m the queen.”
Seven and I exchanged a look of amusement.
“So you guys have to bow down to me,” she said with satisfaction.
“Really?” I asked.
“I’m serious,” she added. “You have to bow down to me.”
“Uh, no, we don’t,” I said. “I’m the mega queen, and I make all the decisions around here.”
Seven liked the sound of that, but I have to tell you I’m going to think twice before putting Five in that dress again.
Five’s school had a big variety show last week, and in her part of the class song she had to play a goose. The school had sent out emails ahead of time letting us know about the production and that parents needed to provide costumes for the kids. The teachers wanted a homemade look and feel to the performance, because it was about a farmer who buys too many animals, so we didn’t need to go overboard trying to buy something fancy.
A goose. I’m not terribly crafty to begin with, and then they go and give me an animal like a goose. Why couldn’t the teacher choose Five to be the cat? A pair of ears, a tail, some black paint on her nose, and bam! Costume perfection.
I spent many nights lying in bed trying to figure out a simple and cost-effective costume. I even Googled “homemade goose costume,” but in one of those rare occasions Google let me down. The solutions it offered involved way too much work and money.
I kept brainstorming, though, and finally I decided to start with two white feather boas. I pinned them strategically on a white long-sleeved shirt that Five used in the winter as an extra layer. I used large safety pins to secure one boa up and down her arms and across the shoulders in the back, and then I folded the second boa and attached it just above the hem of the shirt in the back to look like the back of a goose.
The goose bill gave me a little more of a challenge. By the morning of the performance I still hadn’t figured out how to make it. I’d shown both kids the goose feather boa shirt the day before and even had Five try it on to make sure it felt comfortable. But I couldn’t come up with any viable solutions for showing the orange bill, which to me was the clincher in making her a goose. The school had forbidden any masks, so I needed something that would sit on her head.
“How are you going to make the bill?” Seven asked as I drove the kids to school that morning.
“I’m going to improvise,” I said bravely, acting more confident than I felt.
“What does improvise mean?”
I explained as simply as I could that it meant making do with what you had. I’d bought an orange sheet of foam when I bought the boas, so I knew I would have to start with that. But how to get it to stay on Five’s head?
Later in the morning as I straightened up Five’s room, I spotted a large paper bowl on her dressing table that she and Seven had used in one of their games and got hit by inspiration. I took out the foam sheet and began sketching a bill on it. When I got a design I liked, I cut it out carefully and then used masking tape to attach it to another large paper bowl. I pulled out some hair clips and practiced attaching it to my own hair. Too small for me, but perfect for Five.
When I brought the kids home from school, I told them I’d fixed the problem of the bill by improvising. They got really excited to see the whole costume all together, and I didn’t have to break the bank trying to make it. I also got the chance to show them what it means to use what’s on hand, and I hope I can keep finding opportunities like this to instruct them in the fine art of improvisation.
Earlier this week when I picked Five up from school, I could see excitement in her face as she walked toward the car.
“Guess what?” she asked, one of my favorite things to hear when the kids come back from school.
“Guess what I found in the hallway after music.”
“Of course not,” she said immediately, almost patiently, as though she couldn’t believe I would utter such silliness. “Unicorns aren’t real.”
I gasped for effect. “How do you know? Have you ever seen one?”
“Then you don’t know if they’re real or not,” I stated.
“Of course they’re not real,” she said, still being really patient. “Guess what I found.”
I continued guessing, so she started giving me clues. It turned out to be a dime, and I figured it was a coin after the first clue. But sometimes I still like to play pretend with the kids. Makes it easier to remember that they really are little kids, especially when they make it so hard by answering questions with the grownup, “Of course not.”