No matter how hard I tried to sweet talk her out of it, Alysha wanted to be a toad.
What about a witch – no.
Simba the lion king – no.
Ariel the little mermaid– no
A ghost – no. no. no.
But honey, toads are gross.
Don’t care. I want to be a toad.
What about a frog – they are cuter. Plus we might be able to find something at the costume store.
No. A toad.
Cristina and Noelle had their costumes already picked out. But as October 31 approached, I began to get that sinking/anxious feeling that procrastinators get.
Every day, Alysha stayed on her message: did you find my toad outfit yet.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Accordingly, the day before Halloween, inspiration hit.
I could make a toad costume by mutating Cristina’s outfit from the year before. She had been a caterpillar. (Seriously – right? I mean these kids had high expectations). I had gotten some Kelly green polyester, sewed it into a body bag and glued black fuzzy round patches on it. The mask/helmet went over Cristina’s entire head. With a hole cut out for her face. A couple more black fuzzy spots were strategically placed. And…well…here’s where I messed up. Couldn’t quite manage the antennae. They wouldn’t stand up straight. Plus the black fuzzy fabric was a bit hard to sew. So the antennae ended up looking like skinny droopy Basset hound ears. She was a caterpillar puppy. But cute.
This was the outfit destined to become Alysha’s toad.
Halloween fell on a work day. But I wasn’t panicked. I arrived home with a plan. Cristina and Noelle were getting dressed up. Alysha confronted me. Chin slightly quivering. Mawwwwwm. You Promised.
It’s going to be great Alysha, I said. Go have Cristina make your face look like a toad. It should be greenish brown and ugly. She looked at me suspiciously. But went off to the face paint room.
We lived in a Halloween hot spot. Families would come from all over the county in order to trick or treat in our neighborhood. There were not only the typical jack ‘o lanterns, spiders and cobwebs, graves, ghosts, and other scary decorations. But haunted houses that you would walk through. Some people handed out giant size candy bars.
Darkness was falling. I needed to hurry.
The caterpillar/toad suit was long and straight. Toads as I recalled, were squat and bumpy. Swept up in a creative frenzy, I began wadding up newspapers. Then stuffed them into several black garbage bags.
The girls emerged from the makeup room. Cristina had decorated Alysha’s face blotchy toad green with black warts. Alysha looked at the green spotted fabric tube and said – it doesn’t look like a toad outfit. Her bottom lip jutted out.
It’s going to be perfect, I smiled with great certainty. Here get in.
She stepped inside the green fuzzy spotted thing and it puddled around her feet. Cristina and Noelle were watching in fascination. Waiting for the miraculous transformation that was about to occur. Confident that their genius mother would work magic.
Now, I’m going to make you puffy like a toad, I said. And began to stuff the lumpy newspaper filled bags into the outfit.
This isn’t working, Alysha worried.
No problem, I said. We just need to make it puffier. Here, lie down so I can stuff it in better.
Cristina and Noelle offered to help but I had it covered. All under control.
Alysha was lying flat out on the kitchen floor. I was jamming the puffy bags into her outfit until there was no more room left. The fabric was as tightly packed as it could be.
I lifted her until she was upright. Stood back to look at my handiwork. And before I could suppress it, a bubble of laughter escaped. I tried to keep a pleased-yay-mom-made-you-into-a-toad looking face. But the guffaws had a mind of their own. Cristina and Noelle started howling.
Can you walk, I asked between snorts and giggles.
She couldn’t. She couldn’t move at all. She was so completely packed that if I had tipped her over she would have bounced right back up. Like one of those plastic punching bag pop up toys.
Alysha couldn’t see what she looked like. But suspected it wasn’t like a toad. She was becoming upset. Tried to walk. But all she could manage was a teeny waddle. Her eyes started to well up. Then overflow. What a terrible mom I was to make my child cry on Halloween.
I kissed and hugged her and somehow managed to keep her from completely degenerating into total tears. Cristina and Noelle joined the effort of positive thinking. Oh Alysha, you look scary… It’s going to work… Oh, you look (hahaha) like a monster.
Eventually Alysha chose to suspend her disbelief.
We ended up taking the stuffing out of the green black spotted fuzzy outfit. Turned Alysha into a “Halloween Creature Thing.” Whatever that was.
I armed them with flashlights. Gave them their candy sacks. And Raggedy Ann, Zelda the Witch and The Creature Thing went out into the Halloween night.
Photo: Alysha after removal of the bags.