a fish story

This morning Ren’s school was having their Halloween party, and all the kids were invited to dress as something from the ocean to follow this year’s theme. We don’t have any oceana costumes…Spider Man, Power Rangers x2, Batman, Superman, Ninja, Dog, Dragon, Frog, and lots of princess costumes left over from Ashlyn’s preschool days. Yesterday, he came home from school telling me that if he didn’t have a fish costume that he needed to dress in all orange because that is the color of the month.
    “I don’t have any orange, either,” then he shrugged his shoulders and went back to playing with his miniature super heroes.
    Brently said Ren could wear the Frog, they live in water. He also suggested pretending the Dragon costume was a sea dragon. Ren said no to both ideas.
    So this morning, I grabbed Ren’s almost too-small green and orange fish t-shirt from the yet-to-be-folded-clean-clothes basket and paired it with a pair of high-water jeans. He hopped into his Spider Man crocks and raced me to the car. When I dropped him off at school, I intended to walk him to his classroom, hand his teacher a bag of snack-sized Kit Kats—I volunteered to bring a treat for the class along with every other preschool mom—and then leave. I was quickly reminded that they had a parade so the kids could show off their costumes, and every other kid in his class was elaborately dressed in oceana. As the parade started, each child floated by smiling and waving to the parents. There was a shark, a dolphin, a couple mermaids, a lobster, a couple sea turtles, a squid, and octopus, two clown fish complete with hats, and there was my boy, definitely the second born, wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  He strutted by me, flashed the “I Love You” sign and then whispered, “I’m a fish!”
    Second-child syndrome. Extreme Mommy guilt.
When Ash attended this preschool for two years, she always had an elaborate costume. One year she was supposed to dress as a farm animal, and she chose a dog. We scoured the town for a dog costume, found one, and only one. She was an adorable puppy. On other days, her hair was always done in bows and braids and she wore cute outfits. Her “show and tell” always matched the week’s theme and color. And, I always home made treats for her class. Ren is lucky if his hair brushed and his clothes match. He may have even wore two different shoes to school one day. As for show and tell, we grab something from a pile of toys in the living room as we rush out the door. Today, we forgot even that.
    When I picked him up from preschool, Ren grabbed his sizeable bag of loot and bounded into the car. As he was buckling in, I asked, “Were you happy being a fish?”
    “Yeah, sure,” he replied. He then pointed at his shirt and simultaneously held up his bag of goodies. “We had cupcakes, chips and cookies for snack today. It was a good party.”