Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Original Tweet

In 1976, my family went on our very first real family vacation. My parents saved for God knows how long to take my sister and I to DisneyWorld. It was huge. We packed up the car and drove from Batavia, NY to Orlando, FL stopping at Williamsburg, VA on the way. There are many stories from that vacation but I'll save those for another time. I bring it up here because it was on that vacation when we saw the Disneyworld Bicentennial Parade. Remarkably, you can watch highlights of that spectacle here! Note the giant bobble heads. My sister and I watched that parade and were inspired to create our own giant bobble heads for Halloween costumes.

As a member of the "Disney Family" I am now a little ashamed that I didn't choose a Disney character for my costume. But, hey, I was a kid - one cartoon character was the same as the next to me. I chose Tweety Bird. I don't actually remember being a big fan of Tweety. I think I chose it because that bird had a giant head and a tiny body. The recipe for the heads was pretty simple - we made a paste of flour and water, tore strips of newspaper and Papier-mâchéd the strips to a big punching balloon. We left a hole in the bottom big enough for our heads to fit in. When the glue dries, you pop the balloon, cut out eye holes and then paint the giant bobble head. 

I have to say, looking back, I am pretty impressed with my 9 year old self. I made that. 

*I* made it. 

In a time when most of my peers' costumes came in a box...
molded plastic masks held on to their heads with a thin elastic band 
with a corresponding vinyl smock...

I MADE a pretty elaborate bobble head costume. 

I also have to say that there was a lesson there that I may have missed. You see, when we donned our bobble heads to walk in the Kmart Halloween Parade, we were beat out by some kid in a store bought costume. Is DIY a thankless venture? Is originality too much for the masses?

Reese Witherspoon gave birth to a baby boy today. She named him Tennessee. It made my heart sing to read that. Then I read the comments on the news article. People said horrible things.
"here we are with another wacko name...poor child will face humiliation as he grows up..."
"What kind of a name is that for a child?"
" You do know they have to live their entire lives with that name or go through the bs of changing it!"

This broke my heart. I think Tennessee is a beautiful name. No one has any problems with kids named Georgia or Virginia or Dakota. Certainly, no one seems to have problems naming their kids the same name that everyone else is using. No offense to the parents of Samantha, but there are no less than 5 girls in first grade named Samantha. It's a beautiful name too, but when you are one of 5 how unique do you feel? I have to say, I might rather be the kid with the interesting and unique name than the kid that has the same name as 4 other kids in my class. But is that just easy for me to say? 

My name was the 30th most popular name in the decade I was born and ranked 14th in the following decade. While I didn't have any other Kelly's in my class growing up, it certainly wasn't rare or unique. So maybe it's easy for me to envy the concept of being the one and only kid with my name. Or was it mean of me to do that to my daughter? Did I set her up for a lifetime of teasing? Some kids at her school called her Tennisballs. Some other kids said her name is freaky. These kids are named, you guessed it, Samantha, Daniel and Michelle. I wonder if those same kids have commented on some other classmates' names like Aayushi, Yekta, Hrach, or Tonatiuh? 

And I wonder what Samantha 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 will be wearing this Halloween. Will they be wearing handmade unique costumes, or something from an assembly line? And what does it say about me as a parent that I care?