There’s a tradition within the delightful (especially for anyone who grew up on Calvin & Hobbes and/or was a sometimes “challengingly” bright child and/or has ever worked in a school) comic strip Frazz, by Jeff Mallett. The tradition of which I speak is that one of the main and recurring characters of the strip — a young boy named Caulfield (yes, CAULFIELD) — plans his Halloween costume each year around a literary figure, which the staff of his school are challenged to be literate enough, themselves, to guess.
Well, Ash isn’t quite there yet, but he is planning on ending his two-year Halloween run as a dragon — it’s shocking, I know! — and dressing up next Halloween as The Scarecrow, from The Wizard of Oz….which was a book we got him last Christmas and which he read shortly thereafter. (We got the classic version of the movie from the library for him, on the heels of that.) Perhaps I should provide a little more context for this phenomenon-of-sorts that leads to the bit with the hilarity. See, we got the book because a like-new copy found at a thrift store for the price of spare change, was too good to pass up, and we thought, well, if Ash wasn’t ready for it then, he would be soon. Not only was he ready, but he ate it up. I got to prove to his teachers that he had reading comprehension skills they never would otherwise have had reason to believe he had, by having him do his reading log on the book, and having him answer questions like what The Cowardly Lion did that was brave. He loved the story, he loved the characters, and he was engaged by their personalities and their plight….we had to “pretend” our way through him interacting with all of them, multiple times, after he was done with the book. The Scarecrow, in particular, attracted his interest. In fact, that character completely changed Ash’s perspective on face paint, which previously distressed him to even look at, let alone consider having ON any part of him. I’m not sure what it was about the way that character’s makeup was done, but after seeing the movie (after seeing the illustration on the cover of his copy of the book), he was very enthusiastic about wanting to try having face-paint on him. He even followed through with the professed intention, when Easter came, as a way of starting to get used to the sensation.
Scarecrow, Scarecrow, Scarecrow. He insisted (and has yet to change his mind, despite things like a more recent love affair with the How To Train Your Dragon series of books) that he wanted to be Scarecrow for next Halloween. I, “Need to make sure that he has the floppy hat with the point,” and that I, “Paint [his] face yellow-that-turns-into-[his]-neck with the brown mouth and brown triangle nose and black eyebrows” — (actually, he wants to try putting on some of this face paint himself) — and, “Make him the blue shirt with the rope belt, and the brown pants, and [he] needs boots for all that walking on the road,” and oh yes, “A crow so that [he] can pretend to try to scare it, and be silly.” I must also be sure to not forget to make him some fake straw out of yarn, so that it can, “Stick out of [his] feet and hands and shirt and brains.” Just in case he wasn’t clear enough, he drew me a costume design sketch on his Magnadoodle. Early on when he was first going on with me about this idea, I asked him why Scarecrow was his favorite character. He told me, “Scarecrow is my favorite because he keeps wanting more brains so he can get smarter and help his friends.” Allrighty then. I’ll take this as another one of those times when he shows remarkable empathy for a character, shows self-awareness through what he casually relates to and admires.
It doesn’t end there, though. Oh no, he’s got it allllllll worked out. Although I keep trying to damage-control the fact that it’s hard enough for his Daddy to get off work on Halloween, and the chances are next-to-nill-would-be-generous that the entire, semi-extended family will not only go trick-or-treating with us, but also dress in costumes of his choosing….that’s just what he thinks should and hopes will happen.
Already once before, Ash told me about what character from the story, he has assigned to what family member. Today, he brought it all up again, and I got him to provide explanations for why he chose each match.
- He should be The Scarecrow, “Because he likes him best because he wants brains to be smarter.” (Yes, of course we talked again about how Scarecrow, just like him, was very smart….he just had to find the right ways to show people that.)
- I should be the Wicked Witch of the West, “Because then [I] could pretend [I was] riding on a broom, which would be fun and wouldn’t hurt [my] leg so much.” Also, he thinks, “It would be funny for [me] to pretend to be evil and chase [him].”
- Daddy should be the Tin Woodman, “Because he is kind.” (That should get extra, delighted attention from those readers of mine who know the long- and much-used nickname I gave Steffan 15 years ago, and the derivative linguistic meaning thereof. But if you do….shush, it doesn’t belong here, as it has been used in too many other places.)
- Uncle S- should be the Cowardly Lion, “Because of the mane.” It would seem — no surprise here — that Ash does not agree with his uncle about the notion that all men should have hair as short as possible. For reasons I won’t get into here, I went from finding it very amusing that Ash picked that character for this uncle (who is probably the most concerned with issues tinging on machismo, of anyone in the family), to finding it rather satisfying that Ash would just love to see him with a big ol’ mane of hair.
- Auntie L- should be Glinda, “Because then she can have kids being her Munchkins.” Oooh, that’s another loaded one, even if he’s just vying for a cousin again.
- Uncle A- should be The Great And Terrible Oz, “Because he would dress us as a giant, green head on a throne.” Well….yup. If anyone in the family was going to think it sounded like a perfectly enjoyable idea to dress up as a giant green head on a throne, it would be A-. Ash nailed that one.
- Last but not least, “Grandma should be Dorothy and Grandpa should be Toto because they live together and are companions just like Dorothy and Toto are.”
Oh boy. When I’m not fretting over how to even get all three of us dressed to Ash’s satisfaction, I’m still cracking up over all that. To be honest, this was also one of the only things I had to post that didn’t involve editing and uploading a ton of photos. ;-P