Dressing up, as part of a school project about a President, is tricky business. To explain this, I have taken it upon myself to study up, and to report that the leaders of our great nation can be broken down into three different eras: white wigs, beards and bowties, and the modern power suit. FDR falls into the category of the power suit, and it is near impossible to make a nine-year-old girl look like a 60-year-old democrat, particularly when the only suit jackets we own belong to my 6'2" husband, which means we are already looking RIDICULOUS in the rough sketch I have compiled in my mind. Fortunately, President Roosevelt had polio, which means we were given the advantage of a wheelchair as a prop--except that G is at the tender age of peer pressure and coolness, and she would prefer not to dress as the subject of her presentation, but rather, as Miley Cyrus in an old brown dress, because this is what she recognizes as the fashion trend of the 30's and 40's. She is not yet to the phase of childhood when a wheelchair, and it's corresponding feats of balance and trickery, is considered a marketable social skill.
You see now, why this is an IMPOSSIBLE project. Third grade girls, and their recognition of peer pressure and their lack of perspective and their incredibly immature understanding of social norms and expectations means we are likely to appear as FDR's singing cat. Or something else that's *just* on the VERGE of reality.
|In her interpretation of Little Orphan Annie, |
G will be allowed to retain her eyeballs.
In hashing this out with some friends (as all third grade research projects are), it was brought to my attention that during the movie, "Annie" visited FDR in the White House. Apparently, they sing "Tomorrow" together--and, you know, it's kind of this statement about Annie finding her real parents, and also, the country getting through the Great Depression. I mean, it's so OBVIOUS, that the story of "Annie" is really a symbol for the FDR-era and I'm just really not sure how my six-year-old self didn't GET the political implications. It's like that time I figured out that "Grease" was all about S-E-X.
But really, I'm just happy I don't have to lug a wheelchair up two flights of stairs at G's school, or that I don't have to verbally spar with my daughter over dressing like a man, or that we aren't resorting to a costume of some sort of make-believe/animated character.
What's that you say? Annie was originally a cartoon? Crap.
We're going with the argument that "Annie" was really every man or woman who was hit hard by the Great Depression and searching for something...better. Also, I am teaching G one of the most important lessons: that when choosing a book, research paper or project, make sure there is a MOVIE to reference. The *trick* here is going to be explaining how the cartoon character, Annie, is a symbol of a very trying time for the country. This is going to be like teaching the concept of art imitating life, to a child who is JUST beginning to understand that chipmunks don't actually sing pop songs.
Knowing G would NEVER go for the red-afro wig that Annie sports, today I told her that I would be setting her hair in rollers, so that it is at least semi-accurate by being curly.
If you're wondering why I'm SO crazy over G's costume, then I will tell you that it's because I figured something out--I believe the dress-up portion of these projects is designed to get PARENTS involved, because no nine-year-old can pull off dressing like a president (or rainbow lorikeet, last year's project) without help. Friends, this realization opens SO MANY doors, because now I don't need to gather costume elements and *kind of* fudge the details to look like a 3rd grader came up with it on her own. No! I can OWN this and teach G the choreography to "It's a Hard Knock Life" for extra-freaking-credit. Might I remind you--G's research and observation skills lead her to believe that brown clothing is an accurate depiction of FDR's presidency, so she NEEDS me. I can hear some of you claiming abuse, because I am "controlling" my daughter's involvement in a school project, and to that I will respond that I am simply teaching her to put her (my) best effort into her (my) work. And by "best effort", I mean a musical number--because "Glee" has proven that musical numbers are where it's at.
I informed G that I would be curling her hair, and she sort of whined about it, and I told her to QUIT IT, because without SOME KIND of curly hair, we might as well be the Swedish chef from the muppets, because it won't make sense. I mean, there is a point at which you can exercise free will--and then there is attempting to be accurate as a fictional character personifying a history project. We are walking a FINE LINE here, and I am convinced our fate rides upon my ability to transform G's hair into ringlets.
By some miracle, I have resisted the urge to sew the famous red dress. This is almost giving me a nervous twitch, except that a friend has let us borrow a basic red dress, and so I am now free to obsess over how to make a white sash for the waist, and what kind of white collar will look best underneath it. You know, the stuff that's IMPORTANT to understanding Franklin Roosevelt. Yes, I am being incredibly sarcastic, and also incredibly REAL, because I guarantee collar selection will take at least 1.5 hours of my time tomorrow.
When Annie talked about having a hard knock life, I'm pretty sure she was referring to being a mother of a third grader with dress-up component to a research project. Her message is universal, really.