She chose all the fancy dresses in their rainbow colors, coming with me to two different thrift stores on their various sale days to make the selections.
I sewed it up, photographed it, and sent it in to be juried.
It was accepted into the fashion show.
She practiced and practiced and practiced her runway walk:
She even drew the sidewalk chalk runway herself this time!
Of COURSE there was some last-minute sewing to do:
And some last-minute...welding? Searing?
You will be pleased to know that, in the nick of time, I finally thought of the perfect way to attach giant, bulky, cumbersome wings to a child. I'll share later.
The official word this year was that, although the Hair Arts Academy was again donating their hair and make-up services, we needed to provide our own make-up supplies. This was doubly awkward for me because not only do I not wear make-up, but I also don't know anything about make-up, and thus didn't have the first idea of what I should buy (nor did I want to *buy* anything that I was only going to need once). This is why it's good to have friends, since my buddy Kimberly was kind enough to talk me through what I would want for the look that she thought I'd want. And honestly, I did my best at CVS, agonizing over neutral but shimmery eyeshadow, and blush and lipstick, and a stick of stuff to put around your eyelids, and mascara, and body glitter, and then actually spending 60 FREAKING dollars of my homeschool/crafts budget to buy it all, but when we got to Hair Arts Academy and met our stylist, Jordan, he listened to me so kindly and patiently as I described the neutral and shimmery look I was going for, but when I handed him a CVS bag clearly full of totally random make-up, told him (as if he didn't already know!) that I didn't know anything about that stuff, and mentioned that whatever he didn't use I'd return to the store, he very kindly and patiently, without even looking in the bag, handed it back to me and said, "Why don't we just use my make-up, and you can return all that?"
Fortunately, Sydney knew EXACTLY what she wanted to do with her hair--two small braids with rainbow beads on each side of her head (inspired by a little playmate who often has all her hair done up in gorgeous beaded braids) and a ballet bun. My friend who does her daughter's hair in those enviable beaded braids told me how to do them, and I had them finished before we got to Hair Arts Academy, since they're so time-consuming that I didn't want her stylist to have to stand there and do them all while a million other models waited their turns. It was actually pretty great, since Sydney's beaded braids got loads of compliments from all the stylists--it's like in The Hunger Games novel, when everyone falls in love with the complicated braid that Katniss' mother puts in her hair the morning of the Reaping, and you know that, for all her flaws, her catatonic depression and how she would have just let her kids starve to death, at least she can do her daughter's hair real cute.
Jordan's ballet bun also seriously blew mine out of the water:
Yep, glittery eyelids:
Hair and make-up, a dress rehearsal, and a photo shoot (or twenty)--
--made for a LONG day, and by the time the main event FINALLY arrived, the kid had her game face on, ready to go:
The Jefferson Street Marching Band was the opening act:
And then, my baby's big moment:
And THEN she got to just sit back and relax!
It would be so easy to mess this kid up, this child who can never have enough attention, who loves clothes, who craves the approval of others. It would be so easy to dress her effeminately, to praise her for being so pretty. She would be easy to encourage into the most constricted stereotype of the girly-girl. She'd do toddler beauty pageants if I asked her to, dolled up in heavy make-up and fake hairpieces and inappropriate clothing, shaking her butt and winking on stage. She'd go with me to commercial auditions, and consent to be a child actor on a sit-com, or mouth pop tunes on a tour of all the shopping malls in America.
The hard thing about this kid is to parent her while respecting her passions, but without degrading them into the usual sort of stereotypical girly-girl pop culture fluff--to channel her love of acquiring fancy clothes into fashion design, and to allow her to take ownership of her passions, even if it means I get dragged into a major fashion show every year. To show her that make-up is a legitimate craft. To praise originality over conformity. To interest myself in what SHE loves. To tell her that yes, she is a lovely child, but that loveliness is a circumstance, not an accomplishment. To buy her those shoes that can only be described as stripper heels, since they're on sale and I can afford them, but to require her to wear her purple Keen's sandals on the runway instead since the stripper heels are slippery and the Keen's won't cause her to fall off the stage. To also buy her real make-up to play with, and to allow her to walk out in public with me even when she puts what seems like all of it on her face, but to also buy her real clown make-up, and to allow her to walk out in public with me when she paints her entire face like a baby jaguar, and then again the next day when she's a zebra.
Yep, she can be a HARD kid to parent (aren't they all?). But oh, this journey with her is worth it.