Friday, October 30, 2009

My boy, the ladybug

Last night I spent four hours sewing black fleece spots on a red tuxedo jacket with tails.

Halloween is my son Ben’s favourite holiday of the year. Weeks before, he begins asking everyone, in sign, what they’re going “to be.” You’d think that after all these years I’d be proactive and have his costume ready months in advance.

Instead, I wait till the night before. First I race around the large local thrift store, looking for a bargain. But as time runs out, I inevitably end up in the most expensive costume store.

Ben has been “thinking” about what he wants to be for weeks. He finally settled on a ladybug, like Francis, the aggressive male ladybug in the movie A Bug’s Life who’s frustrated that everyone mistakes him for a female.

Yes, it’s unusual that a 15-year-old boy wants to be a ladybug, but my son is one-of-a-kind.

Like the mother who wrote in the New York Times Motherlode blog this week When a boy wants a tutu, I wondered if I should steer Ben toward a more boy-appropriate costume.

“What about a cockroach?” I asked eagerly, knowing he had his heart set on being a bug. He shook his head vehemently.

When my husband and I finally ended up at the expensive kids costume store, there was, of course, no male ladybug costume to be found. However, there was a bright red tuxedo jacket with tails – the perfect twist on a ladybug costume for my son, I thought. I could stitch the black spots on it.

The jacket was made out of cheap cotton. The price – $80 – was not cheap. We bought it and the store gave us black fleece scraps for the spots. We also bought devil’s wings (which were red and black, and could double as a ladybug’s), a black face mask and antennae with eyes at the top that flash on and off.

At home, D’Arcy cut the ladybug spots out with a razor, and I prepared to sew them on. First I grabbed the large kitchen scissors to cut the tag – which I knew Ben wouldn’t tolerate – out of the collar. I inadvertently cut a hole in the $80 jacket!

Now I not only had a dozen spots to sew on, there was a hole to fix. Did I mention that I am not Martha Stewart and we do not own a sewing machine? Luckily, I remembered a stitch my aunt taught me when I was seven and did delicate embroidery on tea-towels.

This morning, when Ben donned the costume, he was very pleased. The photos we took didn’t materialize in my inbox as planned, so I had to improvise with a Bug’s Life image of Francis above.

Happy Halloween!


Wow! You are ambitious. I'm always in awe of those who work so hard on Halloween costumes. I hate to sew and "make" stuff -- and I sigh a secret sigh of relief when my kids ask for store-bought costumes!

Thanks for your message! I'm not a wiz at costumes and I'm always hopeful I'll find a unique custom-made Halloween costume in the thrift shop -- but they seem to be hard to come by these days.

What are your kids wearing???

Have a great weekend!

Ladybugs need a brand makeover. They're actually pretty tough. Have you ever been bitten by one?

No, I haven't -- I didn't know they bite. I wonder where the name ladybug originated and why? A new brand that includes both genders is in order. lk