lesson in need vs. want

"I will," I told her when she asked me about party invitations after Christmas. "I don't know yet," when she requested the date of her birthday party. I implored her to stop asking questions. She did not know she was going to Disney World and there wouldn't be a big formal birthday party this year. Still, she asked. Still, she made list after list of the friends she wanted to invite. Still, I could not possibly wrap my head around any type of planning for this because we were going to Disney World. I was obviously neither stressed, nor excited.

I pushed this completely out of my mind, birthday party denial deeply set in. That lasted until we arrived home and she again approached me with those lists of friends again, a sullen look upon her face. I could ignore her requests no more. This was going to be a tough storm to navigate.

I don't do simple. Ask Steve. He will tell you that I am completely incapable of showing restraint around my kids' birthdays. Even if my goal is simple, I lose my way somehow. With our big trip looming, I had motivation to keep it simple because I had no time to spend planning anything more than simple this year. Well before we left for Florida, Connor's simple birthday was already behind me; group tickets for our extended family to attend a Boston College hockey game, dinner out with family before, and a lovely hockey themed cake from a local bakery. I could do this, couldn't I?

Orlando behind us and staring down the barrel of birthday number two, I suddenly announced to Steve Friday night (opening night for Frozen sing along) that THIS would be the ultimate simple birthday for her. No formal party with written invites and expectations, just a few close friends, a movie, some popcorn, and a bouncing snowflake to help them with the lyrics. I was shocked when every person we invited accepted (and we had kept the list to our closest girls). We had a "party" afterall! I was thrilled!

We had to do some more explaining about what the sing along was, who was coming, what fun it would be. She was getting excited, until she asked, "but Mama, what will I wear?" She had her heart set on an amazing Elsa dress we had seen someone wearing while we were in Florida. She saw it and instantly wanted it and we looked everywhere for it until they informed me that there was no Frozen merchandise at Walt Disney World. Disney World was SOLD OUT. The dress just wasn't going to happen. Thus began one of the most pivotal afternoons we have spent together, just us girls.

We talked about comparing ourselves to others. We talked about need vs. want. We talked about gratitude for the experiences and souvenirs from her VERY RECENT trip to Florida. We talked about appreciation. Our heart to heart had broken it down to simple terms; she was excited about the movie, she was so happy her friends could come, but she wanted to feel extra special. We talked about realistic expectations. I am capable of simple sewing, but a seamstress I am not. Together we crafted an idea for an Anna cloak. We whipped out my smartphone and looked at some images and made one more stop at a local craft store. We purchased a yard of raspberry fleece, some black ric rac, and she herself found the adorable clasp for the final perfect embellishment.

On the way home we talked about growing up, that in short time she would begin noticing that lots of people were dressing a certain way. I told her it would be normal for her to want to look just like them too, but that her being uniquely her and feeling confident in her own choices would be way more important than 200.00 boots. She looked at me skeptically in the rear view mirror. She couldn't care less what anyone else wears today. I warned her that would likely change and when it does, I will be ready to find a better solution; a way for her to be wonderful Caroline, not labels Caroline happens to wear on her body. It was a bit over her head, but she got the message. There would be no Disney label in this Anna Cloak, but it would be special and hers and made by me.

I did some online research and found a pretty good tutorial to base it off of. I didn't have a machine or time, just some basic materials and a deadline. We made the circular cape part first, then sewed a separate long piece to the smaller piece. I applied the ric rac while Steve and I watched Blue Jasmine and sipped wine. She was so positively in love with her cloak when she woke up in the morning. She felt special at the theatre, wrapped up in the fleece coziness. The entire project cost under $20.00. The Disney Elsa Dress is QUITE a bit more.

On the way home I told her, I think we might have Halloween wrapped up. That has to be some kind of record.



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