My 7-year-old daughter was Pippi Longstocking for Halloween. She made up her mind a while back, when we finished reading Pippi. She has recently devoured Pippi Goes on Board, and her infatuation with the eccentric red-head who lives alone with her pet monkey and horse, without parents, and with a suitcase full of gold coins, has only grown. For her costume, I ordered a used blue jumper dress (under $10, thank you). Sunday we set out to sew red fabric patches on the jumper. Both girls immediately demanded to help. I let Pippi draw the square-ish patches on the back of an old, red t-shirt.
Immediately, her forlorn 4-year-old sister, who wore a well-loved, hand-me-down Cinderella costume on Halloween, demanded: “What can I not do anything” This has been her preferred way of asking for things lately, asking why she can’t.
I devised a plan that allowed both girls to help me. Pippi would pull the needle. Cinderella would hold the thread and scissors, and cut off the excess thread when given a cue. According to this plan, it would take us about 50 minutes to sew each patch (there were four). Cinderella did not stop whining for even a second.
“Why can I not help? Why can I not put the needle in? Why can I not cut when I want to cut?”
Clearly, sewing is an activity best performed by two hands, not six. “Why don’t we put this down for now and go to the store to get Cinderella’s crown and red hairspray for Pippi?” I suggested. Both girls got dressed quickly and we were off.
We got to Target, and there was exactly one Cinderella tiara left. I grabbed it, tossed it into our basket, and exhaled a bit. Next, hairspray. Which they didn’t have. This being the Sunday before Halloween, the aisles were thoroughly picked out.
Pippi put on a pathetic display of disappointment, followed by an enraging one of blame. “You said we were getting red hairspray, and now there’s no hairspray, and how can I be Pippi with brown hair? YOU PROMISED.”
I guess somewhere in my suggestion to go to the store she read promise that could never, ever be broken. “OK,” I said. “I have to tell you that you are being ridiculous. We are going to try the pharmacy down the street, but if they don’t have it, that’s it. You are going to have to wear brown braids.” He drove the block and a half to the pharmacy. Cinderella asked if she could bring her tiara into the store.
“No,” I said. “Why can I not bring my tiara into the store,” she whined. “Because they will think you stole it, and then they will take it away from you, and I am not buying another one.” Miraculously, she accepted the explanation without further questions.
CVS had a few sad cans of color hairspray among other exciting offerings in the mutilated Halloween aisle (Creepy Talking Butler, anyone?). We scored a red can, paid, and got in the car. Cinderella asked if she could hold her tiara on the way home. Sure. Whatever makes the whining stop. Everyone was pleased, for a few minutes. Cinderella asked: “Mommy, can you cut the package open when we get to the house?” The moment I parked the car, she asked again. “Give me a minute to wash my hands and I’ll grab the scissors,” I said.
By the time I got out of the bathroom, Cinderella had taken matters into her own hands, but the $5 royal tiara was not nearly as sturdy as the plastic rings that held it to the cardboard package. It had snapped. There were tears.
This is how the story ended: Cinderella wore her broken tiara, sort of repaired with some strong tape, just for pictures. Daddy held it the rest of the evening. Pippi was offended that the red hairspray got everywhere, not just on her hair. She trick-or-treated with brown braids.
A Happy Halloween was still had by all.