Swashbuckling, parkour, or something else?

"Peter sometimes came and played his pipes" from J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy, illustration by Mabel Lucie Attwell

Several weeks ago, I asked my daughter, who is almost three, if she would like to dress up for Halloween.  She said yes, that she wants to be a pirate.  (I think she was inspired by the Charley character in Lucy Cousins’ Maisy books, because several of the books feature him dressed as a pirate.)  I don’t think we’ll go pillaging for candy anywhere, unless it’s early enough to be before her bedtime, but I do think we’ll dress up and go out walking in our small town.  (Last year, she had a lovely time at pizza dinner with a dear old friend and her daughter–the daughter is a year older than mine, and was dressed as Sleeping Beauty, in gorgeous shiny regalia.  My daughter’s all purple ensemble: eggplant hat, fuzzy purple coat, shirt, pants, and purple Robeeze boots were cute but as a costume, it was a little abstract.  I admit to putting very little thought into it.  She was two!)  But this year, pirate.

How to build a pirate costume for a toddler?  I’m not going to rush out and buy a bunch of junk.  We’ll use stuff from home: bandana, some shirt and pants, boots, jewelry, and a stuffed parrot from the toy box.  I have no idea what a pirate mama should wear, but in my last-minute urge to be creative, I recalled a dream I had earlier this week.

So indulge me writing about a dream again.  (It’s my blog!)

I was at a writing convention, in a big hotel, or maybe it was a cruise liner.  Someone I used to work with at a regional theatre ages ago (who is not a writer) was there, and there was some craziness about him throwing a party that he invited me to but I didn’t have time to see the invitation, being too busy taking care of a sick toddler, but then later I saw him and some other men from his hallway dressed as women.  (If you knew the man I’m talking about, this would be a very amusing sight.  So we have a Halloween theme begun…)  Later in the dream, I was delightedly climbing, scaling really, the outside of what had now become a beautiful, very old, stone building (apparently now not a cruise liner, but still the writing convention).  Climbing the stone was exhilarating and effortless.  I was the opposite of afraid.  It was maybe as good a feeling as dreams of flying.  Someone inside the building asked what I was doing.  “SWASHBUCKLING!” I yelled.  It was how I imagine those parkour people feel when they are doing their amazing yet completely natural movements.

And then (just now) I remembered Peter Pan and the pirates in Neverland, Smee  and Hook and the gang.  I’ve long been obsessed with those characters, so took a nostalgic stroll through the images I used in grad school for a seminar on J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, where I found the image above.  (Not Disney.  No.  No.  Read Peter and Wendy.  Even if you are a grownup with no kids.  It’s beautiful.  If you have the time or money, look at the edition with illustrations by Mabel Lucie Attwell.  They are transcendent.)

So yeah, I am going to be a pirate this year.

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2 responses to “Swashbuckling, parkour, or something else?

  1. Mm, pirates! I enjoyed this–shades of times now passed. I once threw a pirate party for my eldest. Everybody got soft eye patches and jeweled sashes and a drawstring paisley pouch full of play coins and pirate loot. (Thank you for the sewing, Mother!) Bits of that party still surface in the house all these years and moves later like a little friendly greeting from the land of childhood.

  2. What a great layer of memories! It reminds me of a little pouch I have for her to play with, maybe I will bring it out for this occasion… Hmm… Thanks!

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