Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
Moomin’s cool dragon wings look beautiful but needed some help to stay on better. I suggested straps across the wingtips so that he could hold onto them, flap, and soar. What I loved was his absolute trust and belief that I could do anything. He had an air of “My mom will fix it!” And indeed, I bustled around taking mysterious boxes down from the tops of bookshelves, digging into my art-and-crafty supplies to find a pincushion and thread… and found pipe cleaners to match the wing colors. A little duct tape bound off the pointy ends of the pipe cleaners. I sat and sewed and felt that it was magic.
Only a half-hour interlude, not rocket science, just being able to think of a plan and thread a needle, but it’s an example for Moomin of how to approach a problem. I thought of my own mom, her amazing creative powers, and the level of time she would commit to making a project come into reality. My halloween costume every year was made out of an old white sheet, which we’d dye with Rit tablets. We didn’t have any money… So just that she had to *think of how to do everything* impressed me greatly. One year I was an Indian (oh, that’s embarrassing now) so we dyed the sheet brown and made it into a sort of fringey tunic. My dad pulled out some leftover latex housepaint to make pictographs on it that I copied out of some lame-ass 2nd grade book on “indians”. I made a headband with feather, painted my face, and I think my mom helped me make a bow and arrows out of sticks, and a quiver from cardboard and string.
The next year I was a “dwarven warrior”. My mom made me a long brown beard out of fur and elastic from a puppet-making project she had done for my sister’s nursery school. I took an old baseball hat and she helped me sew stuffed horns out of some old tights for my horned helmet. I mean, picture your kid declaring that they NEED a viking helmet with horns – what do you do? My mom would frown in concentration, then come up with an Idea. The sheet was dyed grey. Dad made me a wooden sword and shield, which we painted green and white again with the leftover housepaint. I particularly remember thinking his idea for the arm straps on the shield was clever, as he cast about our little garage for something and settled on cutting off some sections of flat garden hose to staple-gun onto the back of the shield.
The best costume was Gandalf. I used the same beard. The sheet was a lovely, wizardy periwinkle blue-ish grey, with astrological symbols. A wooden walking stick from a hike was decorated to look wizardy. Pointy hat from cardboard and elastic, easy!
Trick or treat!
It was only much later that it hit me, how much work that all was, how creative and amazing my parents were, and how cool for never turning a whisker at their 8 year old girl dressing up as Gandalf. I didn’t have the slightest inkling that it was strange. They were so gung-ho and I took it for granted that Big Plans would be made; that someone was paying attention, that anything we wanted could be improvised from materials at hand.
Stuff I do for Moomin pales by comparison. I *bought* the wings, right?
For his parties, I go all out, and I think I manage to work up the same sense of involvement & excitement that my parents did for me. And at rare moments when I sew something or make Moomin an arrow-quiver out of a plastic water bottle, I feel as cool and superpowered in his eyes as my mom and dad used to look to me.
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