On the Making of a Silk Worm
May 22nd, 2016
One afternoon in mid-April, Miss Mouse bounded home with Big News. Her elementary class would be staging a production of James and the Giant Peach at the end of the year and she had been chosen to play the pivotal role of the Silk Worm. This was quite an honor, carrying with it five whole speaking lines, which she believed contained the heart of the storyline.
Frankly, I was a bit surprised by her enthusiasm for this undertaking. Although Miss Mouse has a deep passion for watching live theater, I hadn’t realized she was interested in performing. My firstborn is fairly shy and she is paralyzed by the thought that she might make a mistake in front of people, thereby becoming the object of laughter or scorn. The concept of “laughing with” someone is utterly foreign to her.
But she showed no signs of fear and her excitement was infectious. I carefully read through the information packet that accompanied her script, noting the performance time and rehearsal requirements. Then I saw it. “In addition to practicing their part at home, please help your child make a costume for the play.”
Oh no. My hands began to shake and I broke out in a cold sweat. Or at least I think I did. The precise memory got a bit lost in the sudden roaring in my ears. Make a costume? Of a silk worm? Saints preserve us. Look, I’m not totally inept in the realm of fiber arts. I’m actually a pretty decent quilter. But I hand-piece everything because I can’t use a sewing machine and I only do crazy quilts because straight lines and right angles baffle me.
As for creating costumes? No no no. Some sort of genetic flaw prevents me from carrying on my mother’s legacy of great costume design. When I was five, she made me the world’s most amazing bat costume for Halloween. Fuzzy hat, flappable wings, the works. It was spectacular, but only one of many impressive creations she whipped out over the years. I have none of her skills in that department.
Vowing not to be paralyzed by fear and self-doubt, I girded my loins and headed to Hobby Lobby. I returned home with a swath of iridescent fabric that I planned to drape artfully around Miss Mouse over a white t-shirt and unobtrusive shorts, thereby transforming her into a luminous and exotic bug. She seemed okay with that plan until the night before the performance when we did a final costume check and the awful truth was finally acknowledged: it looked ridiculous. She appeared to be wrapped in a shiny garbage bag. The sorrow in her eyes ignited my own costume-making insecurities and shortly thereafter I found myself desperately scouring the aisles of Walmart at 9pm in search of something – anything – that would more fully embody the essence of a silk worm.
And wonder of wonders, I found something! Walmart to the rescue (and that’s not a phrase I utter often or willingly). I returned from the expedition triumphantly clutching a pair of white capris and a fabulous white tiered tank top whose ruffles elegantly captured the segmented nature of a silk worm. VICTORY!!
On the night of the performance, we pulled her hair into a bun and shellacked it with white hair spray. Inspired by her great costume (or so I choose to believe), she took to the stage with poise and confidence. The five lines were spoken with conviction and she floated off the stage in a happy haze of success.