A Flower by Any Other Name

Okay. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But looking back, I see there were signposts along the way. Ones that all but screamed, “Stop! Can’t you just buy a costume like reasonable people!” My daughter was eight years old then and Halloween was fast upon us. Previously, I had made all her costumes myself, but that year my bright idea was to co-create. You know, bring the kid in on the deal. Foster imagination and a can-do spirit. The plan? She would be a flower, a burst of bright colored, artistically designed petals. Brilliant, I thought.

In addition, as any mother in Vermont would know, I also saw the potential to dress her warmly and yet still in costume. For my daughter, many a prior Halloween was foiled by having to wear a cumbersome winter coat over her costume. I remember the arguments and the pleading, “Please wear your jacket over your Cleopatra costume! Don’t worry, they’ll still see your eye makeup!” There was crying too, but that was me. Worse for cold weather trick-or-treating was the belly dancer costume I fashioned, which in hindsight looked a little racy for a six-year-old. That year involved running door to door, as no exhibitionist child of mine would want to cover up her two-piece coin belt.

The flower concept folded in the warmth factor with leggings, turtleneck, coat, and even boots in green, which would make her entire body the stem of the flower. This we will mark as signpost one. Unless it’s for the luck of the Irish, I have since learned, dressing your child in all green is unwise, lest you’re aiming to concoct a weird hybrid Yoda-Kermit. Next, we constructed large green leaves to be attached to her arms, but it was the attaching part that proved challenging and the second signpost. Listen, people, I am no engineer; I’m the idea person. I’m also perseverant, so I moved on, thinking I’d figure out the “attach the arm” thing later. There’s always plenty of time for this kind of engineering, you know, when you’re a single mother, working full time, right?

The piece de resistance would be the petals. Cut out of heavy poster board, you know the kind, used for every school project before the advent of Power Points? Together, mother and daughter, we would color and design each one individually; each it’s own artistic statement. I thought, “Expressionism, how creative!” We set to work. Our medium of choice, crayon. Let me pause to say, mayhap Crayola was not the way to go. After all, each petal was three by two feet, double-sided. At eight petals, that’s a lot of coloring. Many an early evening, in front of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?,” we colored our crayons down to their nubs. I’m surprised my daughter didn’t get carpal tunnel syndrome. It was like a factory in our apartment. Child labor enforced by the advancing arrival of Halloween! Signpost three, making your child color when all she wants to do is her homework. Suffice it to say, the vision for mind-blowingly beautiful petals blew. Although, I did learn about gravity. The eight petals? They limply pointed to the ground.

In blind determination and denial, I led the charge to move forward and attached these listless fronds to a circle of Styrofoam my daughter would wear around her neck. I don’t even need to tell you about this signpost. I think it’s fairly evident no one wants to wear a jagged piece of Styrofoam meant for a floral arrangement.

The topper? My daughter’s head would be the flower’s stigma. It’s the part of the pistil where pollen germinates. I know this because while I was coloring, my little scientist was studying. I might as well say, straight up - signpost ahead, because to accomplish this, she wore a yellow shower cap. A big stretch to replicate the center of a flower and not a good look for anyone. Why are shower caps so hideous? It’s bad enough one has to be naked to shower, but then to wear a ruffled plastic bag on one’s head? Hey! Someone could design a better shower cap, go on Shark Tank and ... see, I’m an idea person.

I have a picture of my daughter in this getup. She is unrecognizable as a flower. As anything really. My favorite part, she is looking straight at me, furrow in her brow, with a complex look of doubt and empathy, as if to say, “Okay, mom, I’ll wear this ridiculous costume, because, I know, we did it together.”