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.