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Growing up in suburban America in the 1980’s, life felt like a cliché. Except that clichés often have hints of truth in them. The Breakfast Club wasn’t far off the mark from the social strata that I remember. Today, to some, that ladder of acceptance feels antiquated. Perhaps, because the obviousness of the hierarchy has disappeared, we have a false sense of equity and acceptance among our young people. Children learn that bullying is bad…that their words hurt…

And yet.

At least once a year, we have one tragic story of a young person who tried to be strong but who, ultimately, had no outlet other than desperation.

The problem is that even those who are not driven to desperate measures often find their worlds and responses to their worlds colored by the past. At moments when they least expect the response to be tainted by the past, they find it is. These lingering moments are the ones that haunt.

“But, you’re 36 now. That was 30 years ago. Don’t you think it’s time to let it go?”

Yes, I do think it’s time to let it go. Except that in different places and at different moments, the past comes pack to color the present. That present is a good one, happy. People don’t beat up on me or mock me anymore.

And yet.

In the middle of a discussion about the causes of prejudice and the need to pick on a weaker group, I mention that it’s like bullying a kid. Someone thinks I’m discussing a class member’s paper. I have a full on mental flashback to being picked up, placed in a trash can in the high school cafeteria, unable to get myself out of the plastic garbage can. In the middle of a seemingly unrelated conversation, eighteen years from the original event, several towns away from my home town, I am transported back to that moment, the feeling of helplessness, the reliance on someone, anyone, else. However, it was eighteen years ago. This shouldn’t matter.

And yet.

As an adult, raising my son, I look at him and, as do all parents, think about whether I’m making the right decisions for him. Every day, I look at my choices and watch him grow, in awe. Then, there are the moments when I say something and he cries. In those moments, I’m transported to my cousin having my dolls tell me that I’m a bad mommy and that they want to go home with her. That was thirty-one years ago. This shouldn’t matter.

And yet.

Every Easter, I prepare for another holiday. I pack the Easter basket. We get in the car and head to Easter dinner. At least one moment during dinner, I hear my son playing in another room. I’m transported back to the Easter I spent with my cousins at their house. The one where I was little and annoying, maybe seven at most. The one where my cousin decided that the game would be tying me to a chair until I untied myself, found her and her other cousin, and then they would tie me up again. When I was called to the dinner table, I was tied to a white rocking chair. I couldn’t get up. I could only scream. I got in trouble for not responding. It’s been close to thirty years. Everyone has dispersed, and family gatherings don’t happen much these days. I haven’t seen my cousin in four years. My aunt sold that house seven years ago. It shouldn’t matter.

And yet.

I’m a thirty-six year old woman living in an affluent community. I’ve achieved my life goals – I’m a mother, teacher, friend, wife. I’m the person I always wanted to be. The person I didn’t know I wanted to be. I have a tribe of my own. Thinking about this transports me back to the being in middle school and wanting nothing more than to have friends.  To the moment when I was excited to play truth or dare on a sleep away field trip, having never heard of the game. To my choice of a dare because truth seemed scarier. To being dared to take off my bra. The bra that ended up being submerged in Sprite. The sticky bra that I had to wear because it was the only one I had. The shame I felt at having trusted people. All that happened more than twenty years ago. This shouldn’t matter.

And yet.

I think about a little boy, who loves a cartoon. He’s 11 years old. He’s been teased about something he’s passionate about. He’s been teased so much that he tries to end his life. I’m transported back to the baths I used to take when I was around his age – when I imagined what it would be like to be in a bath tub full of water with just enough drops of red to turn it a deep pink. When I idly wondered whether it would hurt or just be like falling asleep.  When I wondered what people would think if I wasn’t there anymore.  When I would tell myself that everyone this age does this. Everyone imagines what death would be like. Everyone… everyone….

And yet.

Age doesn’t matter to the And Yet. Time doesn’t diminish the And Yet. Those who are bullied live with that And Yet no matter their age or what they become. The And Yet is part of us. When I was growing up, bullying wasn’t A Thing.

And yet.

Schools continue to blame the victimized children. Society continues to blame the victimized child. We tell these children to change, to leave a backpack at home, to stop watching a cartoon, to become like the others, to assimilate, to lose part of themselves. Even worse, we tell these children that their size or the things about them that they cannot change will never be good enough for our society. Schools have a responsibility to our children; however, the represent the communities in which they are located. We comprise those communities. We have a greater responsibility to our children. We have a responsibility as a society to change so that the schools represent the different, the underdog, the whole of society not just those someone, somewhere, deemed acceptable.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic may be a trend, a fad. It may be something that in a year or two fades into the background. When my son is 10, 15, or 20, he may not remember watching it with me. He may not remember the lessons of the importance of friendship and diversity. He may not remember the characters. He may not remember the bright pink My Little Pony shirt that he proudly picked out from the girls’ department at the store because none were available in the boys’ department. He may not remember that when I asked him why he didn’t wear his shirts anymore he told me that it was because he was “afraid that the kids at school would tease him the way they teased those other boys.” He may not remember saying that because it was in the context of us discussing recent incidents and how they were unfair. He may not remember my holding him, looking him in the eye, explaining to him that I would never let that happen and that he should never stop being who he is.

And Yet.

I have chosen not only to make My Little Pony permanent on my body but to place it somewhere people will see it. When someone asks about having a cartoon on my arm, I will be able to open the conversation. When people laugh at the idea being ridiculous or ask the slightly snarky, “And so WHAT is THAT?” I can tell them. I can tell them that it was because a little boy inspired a moment in time. I can explain that his struggles are his own but that he is not alone. I can explain maybe people viewed it as a bandwagon, as a “good deal”, as a momentary zeitgeist. I can explain that people treating people poorly to the point of desperation exists.

I could hide a tattoo. I could place it somewhere under clothing. I could place it somewhere no one else but my husband and I can see it. I could keep the physical representation of that part of myself hidden the way the emotional has been hidden. I could cover it up while it is still a part of me. I could pretend that it doesn’t exist with only the people I trust able to see it.

And yet.

The “And Yet” needs to be changed. Because hiding something that has informed the person I am only makes me incomplete. Schools continue to blame the victimized children. Society continues to blame the victimized child. We tell these children to change, to become like the others, to assimilate, to lose part of themselves. Even worse, we tell these children that their size or the things about them that they cannot change will never be good enough for our society. Schools have a responsibility to our children; however, we have a greater one to them. Hiding the past that molded me is irresponsible to my child.

Because then.

I allow others to feel alone.

Because then.

I don’t admit to who I fully am.

Because then.

I let my son feel as though feeling afraid or nervous is something that has to be hidden.

Because then…

The And Yet has the power of the past controlling me. By owning that past, I can use it to change the future. Because then…I can look to the future and to the change I want to be.

I can change the And Yet to the Because Then.

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Cosplaying has fallen outside my comfort zone since I was a small child. Being an “other” never truly fascinated me. However, ideally, I want to be the better version of myself. The me who can finally do the things fictionally that I cannot do in the real world. This year, I have decided that I want to be myself – the better me – the Jedi and the Slayer me.

Everyone has a hero in them.

The Mind Behind the Jedi

As she looked around, she knew that she was not like the others. Her skills were less. Her heart, however, was strong. Her head inclined downward and her eyes gazed at the young boy next to her, the top of his head reaching just to her waist. She knew the look in her eyes gave her away. The New Order Jedi allowed this. Allowed these ties and emotions. He belonged, as did all of them, to the Order.  And yet…in some ways he was hers alone in this world of the Jedi. His father did not belong to this world, but to the one they created alone, the three of them, in their quarters. Her connection to the child was strong – stronger than to the other Jedi. Together, they trained. They would fight next to one another as he aged. They would feel one another within the Force. Yet, she remained distinctly herself. Her powers had grown after his birth, but they had always existed. Her true power was her desire to to succeed. To prevail. As she had aged, she had become stronger within the Force and within herself. She had learned the ways of the Jedi and had learned how to use her strengths to her advantage. Her strengths were not with the light sabers but with the mind. She had slowly, over time, found that her ability to encourage others to find their paths – always the paths that she had chosen for them. She had found her abilities only after that small youngling had entered her world. She had learned that her abilities came from connecting with the younglings and helping them to find their ways. She would never be a member of the Council, but the Council had recognized that her ability to encourage allowed her to train the younglings – always the younglings – in Force Persuasion. Although action was often prized above wisdom, she had learned that when she instilled the importance of wisdom within her younglings, they often chose better actions as they aged. She looked down at herself. Covered in the colors of the foliage and dirt, the greens and browns favored by the Old Order, she recognized them as the camouflage they were – the physical expression of what the Jedi requested of a personality. Calming, intended to blend into the fauna of most planets. She recognized that the length of her robe – a child’s robe for the ones of the adults overwhelmed her form – and the similarly shorter length of her tunics hinted at a childlike quality coupled with that of an adult woman possessing a desire to be seen. Her bright green lightsaber buzzed in her hand, illuminating the path ahead in much the way that her spirit shone with a humor and mischievousness often derided by the other Jedi,  as she looked out into the dark in front of her. The unknown would be known soon. All her planning and training would come to fruition and she would persevere. She always did. She always would. It was not her strength of body that defined her but her strength of mind, including her determination. As she stared into the dark, dully tinted bright green from the light of her saber, she knew, in her heart, that the direction to go was forward. Only forward.

Potential-Now-Slayer

The moment it hit her, she almost fell over from its power. She felt her body strengthen – stand taller, muscles tightening, shoulders straightening much against her normal stance and will. In that moment, she felt her mind flicker. It felt like the flicker that comes before a lightbulb dies out except that her mind, instead of burning out, became brighter, clearer. When the man came, she was unsurprised. She had felt the changes, and finally, finally, she had the explanation. Her body was suddenly reacting to information her brain had downloaded. Yet, she had no idea how the muscles had created the memories that they’d started practicing. The first time she held that piece of wood, since that was all it was, her mind and body reacted viscerally. Her hand gripped the stake – her feet flew into the v-take-a-step stance of a violinist – her mind sent messages to her hands telling them where to strike out to her feet telling them where to move to her eyes telling them where to shift. She had found the balance between her strategic self and her physical self. For the first time, her body reacted in equal measure to her mind. The man attacked her. His British accent nearly caught her off guard. He sounded convinced of his role in her life. He explained that the Power had been unleashed. She looked into those espresso colored eyes and saw, long before he realized she did, that hint of the red underneath. Her hand, fingers twitching, fought against reaching under the hem of her blood red tank top. Her body’s inclination fought with her mind’s inclination. She realized, suddenly, that this man was not man and simultaneously this monster was not monster. She had been sent a monster reformed to train her in the ways of the Slayer. Her hand relaxed around the wood that had warmed to mesh with the temperature of her body, had warmed to blend with her body. Her mind controlled her body more clearly than it had before the switch flipped her on. She looked up at him, slowly, registering his surprise at her actions, and she uttered, her one word statement not question, proof of her new role, “Ready.”

Today was a day in which finding to good was really difficult. Sometimes, anger and frustration can overwhelm interactions. Vague post is vague to protect the not-entirely-innocent. However, it suffices to say, it’s a rare day where I jump in a pool fully clothed, not to save a life.

However, in these moments of anger and frustration, I learned some valuable lessons.

First, to everyone who has ever blamed a child’s actions on those of the parent, please note: Children are people. They have their own minds. They have their own personalities. They make their own decisions, and sometimes, these decisions are not their strongest ones. Blaming the parent for the child’s decisions is something that happens every day. We can teach, as parents. We can enforce rules, as parents. Our parental responses are what is important to note. And yes, I’d rather be the parent jumping into the pool when my child disobeys my orders than be the parent whining and negotiating with a four year old. In that moment, no matter how frustrated or angry I was, I reinforced our boundaries.

Second, parental anger is a distinct animal. It rears its head, roars, then hibernates. This kind of anger is the type stemming from feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment. It stems from the sense of loss of control that comes from being responsible for the actions of a distinct human being. Remembering, once the moment has ended, that the anger no longer exists, even if the disappointment/humiliation/frustration have not subsided, is the lesson to take with me today.

I cannot control others. I can only control myself. I can overcome anger by identifying the true emotion causing it. Yes, these are the positive moments of the day. Why? Because sometimes, I need to remember that another person is not always a reflection of me. Because sometimes, I need to be able to let go of the anger in order to resume my life. That is a valuable lesson regardless of its cause.

Filling the Gap

Today, at the end of class, a student comes up to me with a worried look. She gave me a worried look, then explained that she’s concerned that she won’t be able to write enough to meet the word limit.

I looked at her and said, “You’re an art student?”

“Yes.”

“OK, so, draw a picture first. Then explain the picture and find the supporting evidence to support the point you’re making in the picture. Think about how you’d have to explain your artwork to someone in a gallery.”

For the first time, her eyes lit up and the look on her face brightened. “Yes! I could do that! I can talk about pictures easily. I just can’t come up with the words on their own.”

“Feeling a little better?”

“Yes.”

The Pros of the Cons

As SDCC and the local Massively Multi-Genre Convention, ConnectiCon, draw to a close, a niggling thought keeps appearing in the corner of my mind, hiding there, whispering and slinking around. The thought is prompted by a single comment from a young man today (although it was just one of many comments passed to us). We brought Monster to ConnectiCon since it’s fun and he’s interested in comics and video games. A group of teens were playing Rock Band, and after one of the songs, I asked if Monster could just play the drums for one song, that was all he’d sit through but he wanted to play. The young man very sweetly agreed saying he had to go anyway. As he stood up, he turned to us and said, “I just want to thank you for bringing him. I really wish my parents had done something like this with me. What you’re doing is awesome.”

Someone, a young maybe 14 year old boy, thanked us for bringing a 3 year old to a Sci-fi/Horror/Gaming/Comic convention. Something about the way this young man said it, with a hint of sadness and a glint of true appreciation, made me realize that there is something special about these kinds of conventions for a lot of young people.

ConnectiCon is local, predominantly New England, even more predominantly Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. It’s small, compared to its peers like SDCC or NYCC or Anime Boston. However, it’s getting bigger. Significantly bigger than last year, the organizers seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the crowd. Pre-ordered ticket sale lines were easily an hour long wait after 8am Friday morning. One panel got so crowded that the organizers did not know how to clearly set up the line for the panel and had to do some public relations damage control asking the speaker to come back the last day for an impromptu panel in the Main Hall. Efficiency did not necessarily seem to be one of the main fortes of the weekend, and we overheard conversations about people being so upset that they wouldn’t come back next year. One of the comments passed included, “This has been a small con for the last few years, but it has a lot of potential and it’s not clear if the organizers are prepared for what it could be.”

A lot has been said here and elsewhere about the “rise of Geek Culture”. A short, undetailed summary of reasons includes rebooted shows done well (Dr Who), huge comic based movies (The Avengers, Spiderman, Batman), and the combination of the need for what previously were considered “geeky” skills (computers, engineering, math) to excel in a global society and the connection of previously socially disfranchised individuals through social media. Add all of these factors together, and you a perfect storm of factors contributing to this “new” culture, or at least its social acceptability.

Meanwhile, when reporting on ConnectiCon, a local news outlet started its newscast with “No, it’s not Halloween.” This aside, while innocuous, pertains to the niggling thought creeping in the corner of my mind. Some locals complained of all the teenagers meandering the streets of Hartford. Some locals made comments about the costumes or wondering what anyone would see in this. Adults, teens, and small children all engaged in cosplay throughout the weekend. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of magical to walk around, not as a voyeur, but as someone engaged in the process. Monster dressed up all three days – Captain America/Dr Horrible on Friday, Thor on Saturday, and Ironman on Sunday. Given his excitement, he talked me into joining him as Black Widow on Friday morning and (a modified) Loki on Saturday. Watching people’s reaction to a tiny kid dressed up, engaging in their world and their culture, and welcoming him in the warmest way? That is the pro of cons. People stopped continually to talk to him and several “cosplayed” with him in impromptu “fight skits” allowing him to “kill” them and playing to the crowd. Some of the organizers, dressed as Avengers, even mentioned that they had noticed him, had been looking for him yesterday (when he was home with his grandparents while we geeked out alone), and had put together a small certificate for him for his cosplay. They then encouraged us to enter him next year in the Juvenile category (“He doesn’t even have to go on stage if he doesn’t want to”) because no kids ever enter it. The shadowcasters, RKO Army, saw Monster in his Dr. Horrible costume watching the show and were willing to let him meet “Dr. Horrible.” Even more impressive, Monster saw “Captain Hammer” who was taking down the cameras, and said, “I want to meet Captain Hammer”, and the actor stopped what he was doing, ran to the back, got his gloves, and posed for a picture.  People not only welcomed him, but they included him.

This inclusivity is the Pro of the Con. Here, no one is weird. Here, even if you’re new to the crowd, a lot of times the crowd will accept you. I watched as adults engaged a three year old to help him get into character. On the last day, we arrived around 9:00am, and a group of ‘tweens/teens were standing around dancing. Monster’s eyes lit up at the music and dancing, and he walked over. They not only spoke to him, but they engaged him. They cosplayed little fight skits with him. One was so thrilled that Monster knew what a sonic screwdriver was that he hugged Monster, looked at us, and said, “he’s mine now! He’s coming home with me! I love this kid!” It was a moment wherein these young kids, whom everyone demonizes as immature, showed a maturity level beyond their ages. They not only welcomed him; they truly embraced him as one of them. They recognized themselves in a younger kid. They spoke to us and told us their stories of the weekend until their panel started. They explained their costumes in some cases. They allowed Monster to dance with them. They included him in a way that, perhaps, they do not feel included by others. They did unto others.

People outside of the con went to view and see the spectacle. The spectacle of cosplay is a large part of the con. Underneath that spectacle, however, lies a dedication to the art of crafting incredible costumes. People take pride in this work. In some cases, they included lights or other technologies to enhance their costumes. This dedication melding with creativity and engineering belies the idea of it being Halloween-like. These are people – young and old – engaging in hard work that gets recognized. They put hours of heart and soul into some of these costumes, wearing them only to a place where those around them are willing to and open to appreciating them. They recognized, for example, the homemade quality of Monster’s Dr Horrible costume (granted, it was put together with hem tape and glue…but the “attempted craftsmanship” was appreciated) or took a moment to ask how I made my Loki horns (knitted, with wired and non-wired glittery ribbons, horns covered with mod podge to keep them stiff). People appreciated the art of the craft, not just the spectacle of the costume. This appreciation of others and others’ work brings people together in a way that is part of the love of the genres. People came together because they love the genres, then they give homage to the genres by re-enacting them by spending hours painstakingly recreating them. Then, they come together to accept and encourage all different handiwork. This sense of community through craftsmanship is one of the hidden beauties of the con. Inclusion through shared interests and effort defines the experience.

However, lest people think these young kids are simply loitering dressed as a bunch of fictional characters, the dedication of the true convention attendees is seen in their commitment to attending the panels. The panels range from music to art discussions to meeting celebrities in the genre to discussing feminism in the comic and sci-fi/horror cultures. When we arrived on Sunday at 9am, the group of ‘tweens/teens abruptly stood up and migrated toward the escalators to go see a panel. Sure, they’re dressed as fictional characters. However, in an age where young people are zoning out, these kids were awake, dressed (some in detailed costumes), and motivated to LEARN. They engaged their brains on a summer Sunday for a reason not required by the formal education system. As a society, we yell and scream and do much tooth gnashing that our youth is disengaged, is refusing to analyze, is spending more time watching television or playing video games than reading. However, on one bright Sunday morning, a group of like-minded young people were off to listen to a lecture (or, as I put it for the three year old, “go to circle time”) simply to…learn more. Yet, society still assumes that these cons are about dressing up in funny costumes simply to cavort in an imaginary world.

This is where that young man’s appreciation not only for how we’re raising our kid but for how we’d accept whatever he’s interested in makes me vaguely sad. Society assumes that if something is not productive then it has no purpose. SDCC and NYCC are so large and have such commercial focus, complete with the inordinate collections of celebrities in the genres, that people forget the basic principles for which they were created. They were created to bring people together to share and discuss and educate themselves in a community that supported their interests. Throughout the weekend, young men and women – in their teens/twenties – congratulated us or told us that when they “grow up” they want to be like us. Some thanked us for encouraging our kid. We allowed him to be himself (in what was, sometimes, a rather embarrassing feat of crowd playing). We understand that there is spectacle to a con. However, we also see that the community, the acceptance, and the inclusion that form the foundation of the greater cultural structure support that glittery (or light uppy or makeup encrusted) facade. There are many pros to the cons.

Having a preschooler inevitably ends up meaning that when the said small person finds something s/he loves, the parents get sucked into watching it repeatedly or listening to it repeatedly or reading it repeatedly. So, I very carefully choose the things to which I introduce Monster. A few months ago, I sneakily snuck Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog onto the old iPhone we let him play with. Last week, he discovered it and …let’s just say, if there’s going to be obsession in my house, it might as well be from the Whedonverse.

In the afternoon, Monster started running around with one of his Star Wars blasters (which DOES look like the freeze/death ray) saying, “I’m Dr Horrible!” How can a Geeky Mom refuse that? No. Really? She can’t. When he asked for his swimming goggles, I had a brilliant idea.

First I found these:

These are the goggles from his construction worker costume. Hey, goggles for a 3 year old are goggles.

Then, I found two toilet paper rolls and used duct tape to attach them to the goggles thusly:

After attaching the toilet paper rolls, I covered the whole thing in duct tape to make it silver.

And we had the beginnings of a Dr. Horrible costume for the three year old.

However, Dr. Horrible doesn’t wander around with a Captain America shirt. Also, we have ConnectiCon, the local comic/video game/geek central convention coming up. Monster has several costumes. I’m going in costume. What fun are cons if you don’t cosplay? This year though…THIS year…there will be live performances of Firefly/Buffy/Dr Horrible. HOW awesome would it be for him to dress as Dr. Horrible and WATCH IT LIVE? I KNOW, RIGHT?

Thus began the search for the costume. Now, I am a LAZY person. So. Very. Lazy. I would rather purchase something like this any.day. However, after three hours of searching and several search terms (Dr Horrible, led to Mad Scientist – which has an adult costume but no kid version – led to dentist led to smock led to chef coat), none of the options appealed to me. I know, he’s a little kid. What does he know? Well…this is a kid who told his grandparents that a Harry Potter doll was a DOLL not an ACTION FIGURE because the knees didn’t move. So. Yeah. It’s got to be similar enough to look right to be worthy of his attention.

So…I started thinking, I’d need to learn to sew. But WAIT! Mentioning this on Facebook brought up a comment that I could just use iron on hem tape. What?! What was that? NO SEWING? Well, THIS I can do. And, so I did.

Materials:

Hem tape

Fabric (he’s a kid, I chose the $6.97/yd white cotton cloth at WalMart)

Velcro

Buttons

Glue ( I told you, I do NOT sew…not even buttons…)

First of all, I’d like to thank the nice lady in the fabric department at WalMart. She noted, based on the picture, that for a kid’s costume, I could easily just fold the fabric in half, tape it down the sides, and VOILA! costume. Well, it took me a few days to get what she meant entirely, but it made sense as soon as I saw the fabric up against Monster.

1) I laid the kid flat on my bed and traced his outline. This probably accounts for a lot of the issues I have with the final product…I obviously didn’t leave enough ease. Also, one arm is shorter than the other. See how that title says “Uncrafty”? Uh huh. If you’ve got the time, effort, and energy to go a-measuring, force be with you and do it. I’m too tired, lazy and…did I mention lazy?

2) I assembled all the goods. I laid the hem tape along all the edges to seam it up. Following the directions was easy. Note to self: next time add about 3 extra inches to the outline made on the fabric to account for what gets lost. D’oh.

Also, those armpits ended up being a little scrunched up in the end. Upside is, they’re kind of hidden.

3) Now come some of the details. At the neckline, I cut an extra slice so that there would be ease to fit it over the kid’s head. His noggin’ is pretty small, but still, it seemed a good idea. The goal was to make a flap so that I could attach Velcro on either side so that it would close up. This actually worked out pretty well. I laid out a piece of fabric the length of the extra cut. I cut it wide enough that I could put two pieces of tape in the middle and then fold over pieces from the top and bottom. Sadly, I did not photograph this portion of the crafting show. Imagine a piece of fabric shaped as a rectangle, with two strips of hem tape in the center and two flaps to fold up onto those strips. There you have what I did. Once attached, it looks like this:

4) The collar. Dr. Horrible’s collar is sort of a mandarin collar. This was the tricky part. What I ended up doing was cutting a piece of fabric in a rectangle. Then I used some of the hem tape along the edge, like this:

I folded the top over and glued it together. Then, because both edges need to be clean and it needs to stand up, I did the same thing again, like this:

From there, I used three pieces along the neckline to attach the front collar. It’s messy looking. I’m sure if I had done this before or thought more about what I was doing at the time and planned better, it wouldn’t be. However, he’s 3. At this point, it’s close enough.

4) I glued buttons along the Velcro and at the side of the collar. They look like this:

After thinking about it, I might just leave the collar on the front of the costume. It’s hot here this week and using the iron in the unairconditioned kitchen is…not the most pleasant. However, I still have to attach a pocket at some point probably…maybe…

So, how does it look? Well, this picture is before the Velcro close it up nicely and before the buttons but…the preschooler seems happy enough.

Yeah, that’s a happy face. Mostly. It’s also the intense Dr. Horrible face. Which triples as the “Please stop taking my picture mama” face.

Other than knitting, I don’t craft. I fear sewing machines. Apparently, the Christmas cookies I’ve baked for Monster are so horrifying that he reads a book about a kid trying to snitch cookies and asks “Why?” However, my Tiny Avenger got on a Hawkeye kick. Sure, Target sells a $25 Hawkeye toy. I’m totally ok with buying premade toys. However, 1) I forgot about this and 2) active 3 year old + foam arrows that shoot + 2 dogs = bad bad plan.  After making one bow that got broken, I decided he needed something longer term. Given that he’s rough in his play, I took up Home Depot on their long-lasting products. 

After wandering the aisles, I figured out how to make what I wanted.

First, I picked up some plastic plumbing pipe, a package of 36″ bungee cord, and some Gorilla Glue. I thought of shortening the pipe a little bit, but when I held up the length of cord to the pipe, it worked out. Given my lack of general crafty, the less I have to use real tools, the better. The sign on the piping said that they were easily cut with a saw. Since I fear all things sharp, mainly because of personal clumsiness and potential finger loss, I decided to go with “as simple as possible.” So, this Avenger assembled the following:

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Yup, that’s duct tape. Really, anything can be made with duct tape. It’s kind of fascinating really the many uses of it. People joke, but it’s my go-to. So that would be scissors, plastic plumbing pipe, 36″ of bungee cord that has hooks (or not, that was just what I found), Gorilla Glue (which proved fairly optional), and duct tape. The glory of all crafty toy making.

So, here’s what I did. I hooked the bungee into the tube of the piping, complete with a big dollop of glue.

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Yeah, somehow I got glue all over my hand as well as the sink. See that part about not being particularly crafty? Yeah, um, if you missed it, go back and review. I’m pretty sure the squealing “HAWKEYE! HAWKEYE!” in the background wasn’t so much helping my concentration. But, there you have it.

Assuming that Monster wouldn’t wait for the glue to dry, I decided to hedge my bets. So, what I did next was:

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Wrap everything in duct tape. Ok, it ain’t pretty. He’s 3. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care about the aesthetic if he can pretend to shoot arrows at imaginary super-villains. If you wanted to make it prettier, black electrical tape might/would do the trick. Which, thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure I have. See? Told you I’m not that crafty. It’s really just about securing the hooks to the tubing to make sure that everything stays in place for some heroics. Repeat on the other side of the tubing.

When you’re done, the final project should look something like this:

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Nope, not that pretty. Yup, I probably could have done a slightly better job designing it. However, when you’re at Home Depot at 9am, with a 3 year old, who doesn’t want to stay still, even if you’re explaining to him that you’re buying things to make him a Hawkeye bow? Yeah…pretty isn’t in the mix at that point. However, I won’t lie – the final result would be joy.

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And…a Tiny Little Hawkeye.

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