Character Day

It's reading week at my son's school and today is Character Day, where they dress up as their favorite storybook character.  And they've asked parents to come in and read to the class.  Alex asked if I would, and so – contrary to my hermit-crab-ish personality, I said yes.  For Alex.  He's picked out "Danny and the Dinosaur."

But today, he's in costume.  A costume I made last night and this morning.

He picked the Grinch.  

He was very anxious to be a character, as his teacher said if they didn't dress up, they'd miss out on all the fun.  When I dropped him off this morning, he pointed out a few kids without costumes and said, shaking his head, "Well, looks like they're going to miss out on all the fun."  This – while he was crouching down in the car, looking around to see if any of his buddies were there and in costume so he wouldn't have to walk across the blacktop alone.  

It figures he picked a character with a green face.  "Mrs. W. said we could even paint our faces!" he told me.  At first I toyed with the idea of just using green food coloring.  I already have it.  Several shades, in fact.  But knowing that food coloring lingers sometimes on the skin, I nixed that idea.

No makeup left from Halloween, either.  So I went to CVS last night and came home with green eyeshadow, green eyeliner, black eyeliner, and green nail polish.

He balked at the nail polish at first – "too girly"- but I pointed out that if his hands were going to be green, his nails should, and the Grinch has green fingernails.  That made it okay.

Last night I had him scrounge up all the green clothes he had.  It wasn't much. A couple of plain green tee shirts, but that was about it.   Anything green pants-wise had dinosaurs on it. 

So I figured I'd dig out some kind of green fabric and put together the lower part of Alex's little grinchy body with that.  As I was digging around, I stood up and turned and there, hanging in my closet, was a green terrycloth robe that I've had for years and never wear.  PERFECT!

I grabbed that and a big fat needle, my good scissors, and green yarn.  Grinch-like, I worked without a pattern or any clear understanding of what I was doing.  His Santa suit came out okay; I figured my grinch suit would be fine.

I put the robe on Alex and cut and stitched…my fingers went numb from my stupid idea of stitching by hand…with a big fat needle…and YARN…but I kept going.  Too late to change plans. 

The only thing I couldn't figure out was the waist.  My son, first of all, is built like a stick.  Sticks don't have hips, in case you hadn't noticed.  So whatever he wears must be snug, since there's nothing for the garment to ride on.  Pants have either elastic waists or zippers and snaps.  I didn't have the time or the parts or the know-how to create either of those for him.  And he isn't strong on tying his shoes, (damn me and all the velcro sneakers I've bought because it made MY life easier!) so I didn't want to stress him out with any sort of drawstring arrangement. 

So I had him wear a pair of green shorts under the grinch pants and just tuck the waist of the grinch fabric into the pants.  I had him go up and down the stairs and move around a bit, just to make sure they'd stay, and they did.  Yay. 

Then it was time to apply the makeup.  (It's this morning now.  I finished the pants this morning, too.)  First I put nail polish on, with the assurance that I'd take it off AS SOON as he got home.  Julia looked on enviously.  I told her after today, she can have it.

Then the face.  I had our copy of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and the DVD so I could refer to them as I applied green and black to my little boy's face. 

It was actually fun.  Until Alex looked in the mirror and didn't think he looked like the Grinch.  Well of course you don't!  You're a little boy and you're SWEET!  But I assured him he looked grinchy, and to come sit back down so I can finish.

I changed the mouth a bit – two minutes before we had to leave the house.  The frowny mouth didn't look right – or Grinchy – so I washed the eyeliner off and turned it into the Grinchy smile.  That looked better, I think.

I ordered the kids into the car and we headed to the school.  Bless Julia, she kept saying how awesome Alex looked.  Whether he believed her or not, it was good for MY ego to hear it.

As we neared the school, we saw other kids who wouldn't miss out on all the fun as they trooped toward the building.  Phew!  But still, like I said earlier, he lingered in the car, nervous about crossing that big lot of older kids to get to where the first graders were lined up. 

I started with coaxing and ran through the gamut of reassuring and encouraging and finally resorted to ordering him out of the car.  At last, he took a breath and took his backpack and was out. 

I watched him make his way across the blacktop, head down, feet hurrying. 

He was nearly with his classmates when it happened.

His grinch pants fell down to his ankles.

I cringed and INSTANTLY realized it would have been smarter to stitch the grinch waistband right to the waistband of his shorts.  DOPE!  I've scarred him for life.  AGAIN!

But he just yanked the grinchy pants up and kept going.

Good boy.

I've got a few pictures after the jump, in case you're interested.







7 thoughts on “Character Day

  1. He looks very Grinchy! You did a great job with the face!

    I had a similar trauma with a track suit during a lacrosse lesson at High School. I’d forgotten my gym kit, so I had to wear stuff out of the lost and found. The only bottoms I could find were way too big, and the elastic had gone in the waist. I just tucked it into the too tight top that I’d found, and ran out.
    We were practicing passing the ball whilst running laps of the field. I was concentrating on my cradling, when everyone started laughing and I felt a distinct draft around my knees.

    I survived relatively unscathed psychologically, except I don’t like playing Lacrosse to this day.

    By the way, if Alex is in his dinosaur phase for a while he might like “Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs” (, but it is a picture book so he might think it was a bit babyish. Although I loved it, when I read it at 26!

  2. Thanks, Jen!  I bet Alex would love the book.  I’ll look for it next time I’m at Barnes & Noble.  And thanks, especially, for cheering my face-painting job and ESPECIALLY for that story of yours! 

  3. I just remembered another traumatic childhood incident!

    I was probably 11 or 12 and I was going to a friend’s birthday party which my Mum insisted was a fancy dress party. I thought it wasn’t, but I’d lost the invitation so I couldn’t prove that and her memory is generally more reliable so I went along with it.

    Which is how I ended up standing on the front door step of a house dressed as a Christmas Tree (green cords, green sweater and liberal amounts of tinsel pinned all over me), being stared at by a group of pre-teens in party frocks whilst my mother drove away at high speed.


  4. Poor my Mum! I am more than likely maligning her good name.

    She probably did just drop me off, wave me up the garden path and then drove away at a normal speed really – But in my memory there is practically the squealing of tyres.

    I know she felt awful about the whole thing after wards.

  5. Great job on the face! That’s awesome… the pants aren’t bad either, great job making do. Now your kids will be coming to you wanting all kinds of costumes. I used to make costumes all the time, but I’d use a sewing machine. The kids are grown now but that doesn’t stop them from coming in the night before Halloween wanting me to whip something up for them.

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