When I was in second grade, my mother asked me what I wanted to be for Halloween. Without a second of hesitation, I said I wanted to be a princess. I wanted a dress with a crown. I wanted pretty shoes and make up. She said okay and I went to bed believing my mother was going to make me into a princess.
The next morning, I jumped out of bed and ran to the living room where my mother would lay out our clothes for school. I stared at the pile of clothes in my spot and tried to wrap my mind around my concept of a princess and what was before me.
“You’re going to be a hobo.”
“I wanted to be a princess.”
“I was a hobo when I was your age. It’ll be fun.”
A hobo was a far cry from being a princess. I cried as I pulled on the old raggedy clothes my mom dug up from somewhere. I cried as she made my face look dirty. I sucked back my tears as my dad took me to school. I had to pull it together and save face for my friends. As everyone sat on the rug, my friends wanted to know what I was supposed to be.
“A hobo!” I cried. Then the tears streaked my dusty face.
“You still look cute,” said my friends as they tried to console me. But I was bitter. I wanted to be a princess and my mom sent me to school as a hobo. Today I can laugh about it. As my youngest son tries to decide which one of the expensive one-time-only costumes he wants to wear for Halloween, I think back all those years ago and better understand my mother. She was being practical.