I thought about titling this post something about kids and porn, but then realized that might attract the wrong audience.
The Halloween catalogs have started arriving. You know, because we should start planning 90 days in advance. These catalogs have a special effect on children. Men have actual porn; women have Pottery Barn; and Sally? Sally has the Costume Express mailer.
This flimsy, 20-some page catalog has everything in it a kid could want. It’s dress-up nirvana. Specifically, it has costumes for every character Sally loves, no matter how obscure I once thought those characters to be. Strawberry Shortcake? Check. Daphne from Scooby Doo and the gang? Check. Seriously. A VIDIA FAIRY costume — where the heck was that when I needed it?!
So naturally, with all these options, Sally picks the one character I really don’t want her to be: Princess Peach from the Mario Bros. video games. Whom she has viewed on the television for a total of about 90 seconds.
Now, I’m not totally innocent here: I have allowed Sally and her dad to play the whole freaking game a bit of Super Mario Galaxy together, and much to my dismay in this regard, she is her father’s daughter. She loves it. She mostly watches him and gives him gaming advice. Pretty decent gaming advice. They call it father/daughter bonding time. I call it lazy but it does allow me to get laundry done . . . Still, I never thought our little secret would seep through to one of the most public displays of family life — the Halloween costume choice. The costume choice says a lot. One year my three siblings and I were all characters from Alice in Wonderland. Handmade by our mom. Adorable. Thematic. And a display of fine parenting. The toddlers who show up to trick-or-treat in blood-soaked gore costumes? I don’t like that. Nor do I like video game characters. I’m a costume elitist. There, I said it.
I’m pained about this partly because the Princess Peach costume is the lamest of the princess dresses, and partly because I can barely brush my teeth with my own hands, let alone make a costume, so whatever Sally has will be store-bought. But really I’m mostly disturbed because we live in a no-nitrates-hotdog-eating, no-TV-watching portion of the country and I’m going to get egged if people around here find out my preschooler plays video games! And let’s face it, this really is all about me.
I can see it now: “Why yes, I let my child rot her brain. I found she was requiring a lot of my time, and the video games keep her quiet. With any luck we’ll have her in full, obese gaming form by age 6! Hey, is that spit you just spit on me? I do hope it’s organic.”
So, though I feel a little guilty about it, I’m pressuring her to pick another costume. Like Jessie from Toy Story. She LOVES Jessie. Jessie is assertive, yet G-rated. It sends the right message. Sally’s a determined little sucker, though, and she won’t be easily swayed. May the best woman win. In the meantime, she’ll happily take her daily browse through “her magazine,” ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all the marvelous costume options. It’s outright pornography, I tell you.