Oh, They’re Characters All Right

Today is “Dress Like a Book Character Day” at my kids’ school. It’s written on the Spirit Week instructions I attached to my refrigerator. It’s typed on the homework assignment sheets in my second graders’ binders that I look at every single day. My fifth grader even brought home a two-page letter about it. I wrote it on my calendar in large capital letters. It’s been one of the morning announcements that my kids have heard every morning this week at school. So how none of us remembered that today is “Dress Like a Book Character Day” at my kids’ school until fifteen minutes before bedtime is still one of the great mysteries of life. Or at least one of the great mysteries of this week.

Actually, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it until this morning on the way to school if my sitter hadn’t cancelled about an hour before an event I was supposed to attend. I was sitting at the dinner table with my calendar planning my To Do list for today when I remembered and the craziness began. I hate to think how much more frenzied this morning would have been had we not remembered until today. Because this morning we reached my mind and body’s top capacity for frenzied-ness.

I think a better name for Book Character Day at our house is “Call to Mind Any Random Book Character You Can Who Might Look Like Whatever Costume We Can Throw Together Using Stuff Out of the Dress-Up Box and Other Random Stuff We Have Around the House.” But I guess that’s a little wordy. You would think we’d know to be better prepared. We had Book Character Night at my kids’ old school. But I always seem to be throwing something together and trying to make stuff fit. (Remember our shark character from a couple of years ago?)

My daughter’s outfit was the easiest. After only a couple of false starts we remembered that she was Dorothy for Halloween last year and luckily for us, Dorothy was in a book before she was in the movies, so, thanks to L. Frank Baum and ruby red slippers that we bought a little too big last year so thankfully they still fit, we were set.

We had the makings of a pirate costume so I asked my oldest what books he’d read that had pirates as characters. Luckily, he’s read Treasure Island so he’s going to school dressed like Black Dog. He wanted to be Long John Silver but we didn’t have time to rig up pants that made him look like he only had one leg. He tweaked his costume until way past his bedtime. Once we had the basic pirate look going, I was done. He, however, was looking for handkerchiefs to to stuff in the ends of his sleeves to look like frilly cuffs and a drawstring bag for his doubloons. Time constraints and stress squelch my inner Martha Stewart  tendencies but they apparently enhance his.

The quest for a costume for my youngest son was a little more challenging. He’s not a big fan of dressing up in costumes in the first place, so I was surprised at his enthusiastic brainstorming as we rummaged through our dress-up box. The boys don’t use the box much anymore so it’s become mostly a repository for my daughter’s dresses and costume jewelry so our options were limited. After we’d pulled out the too small Halloween costumes and ruled out the possibility of him going as Scarlett O’Hara (“Who’s he?”), our choices were between Tom Sawyer and Jack from the Magic Treehouse series (who could also double as Encyclopedia Brown, if so desired). My youngest son loves the Magic Treehouse series so he opted to dress like Jack, the protagonist of the series.

My oldest son had dressed as Jack for his first Book Character experience and I know that once upon a time I made the perfect Jack glasses. But that was three or four moves ago and no one has any idea where those glasses are right now. If I were a betting girl, I’d say chances are pretty good I’ll find them when I’m looking for something else next week. My son found his daddy’s  prescription reading glasses which would have been perfect except his dad actually uses those glasses. I have a collection of Dollar Tree readers (Which, for the record, I don’t actually need yet. I just like to be prepared which is so not in line with the theme of the rest of this post.) so I punched the lenses out a pair of tortoiseshell glasses and figured we were all set. Except, my son informed me, those were girl glasses and he didn’t want to look girly. Again for the record, they didn’t look girly, but he remained unconvinced. He found his dad’s spare pair of prescription, not-from-the-Dollar-Tree reading glasses and suggested since Daddy had two, we could punch the lenses out of those. I tried to explain that older people need backups of things and sometimes they even need backups of their backups and that those glasses cost way more than $1 and how they weren’t ours to destroy and we couldn’t ask Daddy right that minute because he was at the function Mama was supposed to be attending and…he could not have cared less. I told him I’d ask Dad about the glasses when he got home but to count on the tortoiseshell Dollar Tree readers to be our probable option.

He woke up first this morning and immediately wanted to know what Daddy had said. I told him, as we expected, we needed to go with the Dollar Tree readers. At which point he decided he wasn’t going to dress up. In fact, he wasn’t going to school at all. His dad suggested he felt left out because his older brother and younger sister had more elaborate outfits. I wasn’t sure the eye patch from the pirate-themed restaurant, my old jean jacket, his dad’s combat boots, his tri-cornered hat from Patriots’ Day, some chopped up pants from the dress-up box, and his Webelos’ kerchief could fall into the “elaborate” category, but I again offered up the Tom Sawyer offering. He tried it on, called it dumb, and went to sulk in his room.

By this time, I was running out of patience and time. I really needed to be able to scratch this off my list so I could attack my Camp Trip To Do list with great passion and zeal. Or at least get it done, too. Dad stepped in and we tag teamed the youngest boy and twenty tense minutes later he decided to go with his original Jack (or Encyclopedia Brown) plan.

It was a fun morning.

Their father, who has known me long enough to know when my last nerve is frayed, offered to take the literarily-dressed children to school and I jumped on the offer firmly with both feet and stuck the landing. I did, however, risk tardiness to pull them out of the truck to get a picture of them in their book regalia, because dadgumit, I wanted a pictorial memory of this day. Right this moment, the memory’s still very almost too fresh, but I just have a feeling it will be a funnier memory sometime down the road.  And since this story demonstrates how my memory isn’t really my best friend these days, I may be down the road a little sooner than I expected. So you go ahead and laugh at this picture now and I’ll catch up by next Wednesday or so.

Hopefully, barring any unforeseen bear attacks or death-by-frostbite over the weekend, I’ll be back next week. Happy Weekend!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Oh, They’re Characters All Right

  1. Amy

    Great job!! Whew! I’m tired just reading about it!

  2. wow. and with THREE KIDS! Great job. I could barely pull that off with just one in school.

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