My youngest daughter is at it again. She’s making yet another costume for another anime convention. I believe it has long ago quit being about the anime (Japanese cartoons), but more about the costume.
They refer to it as “cosplay,” I know it’s really dress-up, but what amazes me is not the fact that people dress up as cartoon characters (any movie, TV show, book or comic are fair game), it’s the talent my daughter has for making costumes.
I sew a little bit; my mother is able to sew very well. When my daughter started to show interest in creating her own costumes, I tried to convince her that “almost” was good enough and ushered her around to various Goodwill locations to prove a point.
It worked one time; we found the perfect suit jacket in the perfect color. Then the costumes started to get more elaborate. I figure one really great costume is all anyone needs in a lifetime, but she wants to make a new costume every year. It has to be as perfect and as close to the character as she can get, so there will never be any question who she is dressed up as. So I set my mom on the task for the first elaborate costume my daughter created.
After that one, long, costume-making session with my mother, my daughter somehow through osmosis gleaned every bit of sewing knowledge my mother has learned in her 72 years. She hasn’t wanted help since, nor has she needed it. And let me tell you, it looks like she stepped right off the comic page or out of the TV by the time she is done.
I have to admit I breathed a sigh of relief when she didn’t want help, because I’m not comfortable around a sewing machine. But as a mother, I tried to interfere. I mean, what 15-year old can create an elaborate, hand-made costume by herself? But it was like when she was being potty trained – she didn’t want help and she didn’t want credit. After a successful potty session, she’d hold up her hand and exclaim, “Don’t say yay!” She knew what she did was good; she didn’t need our help or celebration.
With these costumes it’s the same. I’m not allowed to help, give advice or my opinion and I’m not allowed to watch. When my mom asks about the progress of my daughter’s costume and I tell her it looks really cool, my mom seems disappointed.
I know she is jealous because I get to watch my daughter’s progress. But she has it wrong, the only time I see anything before it is finished is when my daughter is at school. Then I sneak into her room and pick my way through the mess of creativity at work until I find the almost complete costume, then I marvel to myself.
On continued inspection of her room, I find the drawing she did of the design and it takes my breath away. Her talent is so amazing, it’s hard to believe she is my daughter. It’s not just sewing, and drawing, it’s sculpting too. She recreated the decorative rifle one of her characters carries out of a block of Styrofoam.
Sure, artistic talent runs in my family, but how many of us can draw a perfectly proportioned picture of the outfit we want to wear, sew it up and carve a rifle out of Styrofoam?
So when my mother sounds disappointed, I know she wishes she was part of these wonders of creation like she thinks I am. But I can’t take any credit. I may, however, someday say, “I drove her around to find the pieces to make the costume.”
Until then, I think I’ll stick with writing.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is just the chauffeur. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.