Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Be the Horse

So it finally happened to me. Yes, I’ve passed yet another one of those Motherhood Rites of Passage. It was Wednesday night just as bedtime rituals were wrapping up when she turned to me, my 9 yr old wonder child. She looked at me as she often does, as if I am the ultimate authority on things, as if I am a magician that makes the world appear. And perhaps in her eyes I meet that expectation. Her face framed with long black waves, her brown eyes fringed with long black lashes looked at me with that world expectation and the following words issued from her mouth. “Mom, I need a horse costume for my play for school by Friday.”

I hear I’m lucky, some mothers get less than the 36 hours notice I got. I’ve heard of all nighters. I’ve heard dramatic stories of staplers and duct tape. So I won’t complain. Much.

The next morning during the mini-van ride I’m stressing. I’m having trouble envisioning the solution to this horse costume problem. All that comes to mind is a complex series of contraptions I’ve seen in the movies. One in particular was a wire cage shaped like a horse head covered in brown mesh with eye holes. Another involved a person standing within a horse structure effectively making the person wearing the costume into a rider. Either of these options exceed the limitations of my craft drawer which contains scrap yarn, watercolors, discarded needlepoint floss, and mass of tangled ribbon. So I ask her. “What did you have in mind for this horse costume?”

Now this is a child whose imagination far exceeds the typical. She spends much of her time in imaginative play, often in fact being a horse or more likely a dog. There are times when she will sink so deep into doggy world that we can’t get her to use her words anymore. She’s quite a convincing dog, I’ve seen dog owners turn their heads when she goes off at an imagined squirrel. But I digress, the point is, I’m expecting something elaborate and impossible.

In answer to my question she gives me a look that far exceeds her years of possible experience with annoyance and says, “I just thought we could use a hoodie and put ears and stuff on it.” This, accompanied with a shrug.

“Oh, well I can do that.” I reply.

At home later, I pull out a skein of yarn and the sewing machine. Without a lot of effort I produce a mane and tail from the yarn and sew them into place. Some felt and cardboard become the ears. When all is assembled and tried on, I realize the depth of her talent for imagination. She gallops off into the living room and she is a horse. She doesn’t need the costume to do the work. She’s doing it herself.

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