Easily one of the highlights of Bug's academic year is Country Night, put on by her Stretch Reading class. The students spend weeks researching the country of their choice, writing an in-depth report, and constructing a display board. On Country Night, they wear a costume that represents their country, and bring a native food.
Bug's country was Italy this year, and she's been bombarding us with Italian factoids for about six weeks now. I now know that Italians spend a larger percentage of their income on clothes than Americans "because they're into fashion", that back in Etruscan days Italians lived in caves, and that Venice is slowly sinking into the sea. I actually already knew that last one because I used it in one of my more inspired attempts to guilt Tom into taking me to Italy sooner rather than later. If we wait too long, Venice will SINK INTO THE SEA. His response (eye-rolling) seemed to indicate that he thinks I'm making this up.
Coming up with an Italian-ish costume was tricky. Left to my sewing (i.e. stapling and hot gluing) skills, Bug would likely have shown up garbed as either Chef Boyardee (what? Pasta is Italian.) or perhaps an olive (because they make olive oil in Italy?). I briefly envisioned crafting a black olive costume out of a Hefty bag stuffed with newspapers. Bug rejected this idea with undisguised horror and suggested something more along the lines of haute couture because she had read "that lots of famous designers are Italian." I flatly declined to rustle up an Armani for her. As you can imagine, we were both greatly relieved when Grandma took over the costuming duties.
Which reminds me... a word of advice to any unmarried readers? Forget about marrying a guy who's sweet, funny, and picks up his dirty socks. I mean, that's nice and all. But in the category of Absolutely Essential is FINDING A MOTHER-IN-LAW WHO SEWS. Thanks to Grandma, my kids have always had the Halloween costumes of their dreams. And when completely stymied as to how to jury-rig a costume to represent Italy, a quick email to Grandma resulted in a gorgeous Roman noblewoman's dress.
All of the kids were completely adorable in their costumes. This year's crop included a Mountie, a German boy in lederhosen, a ninja, a gaucho, Fidel Castro, Golda Meir, an Afghan tribesman, a Statue of Liberty, and the tiniest little Mexican señor you've ever seen (with a lush, black, but not-quite-sticky-enough fake mustache that he spent much of the evening carefully pressing back on).
I'd like to give a shout-out to my kid for picking a country that I could actually supply food for. Unlike Bear, who during her elementary school years, selected countries like Sweden (newsflash: no lingonberries available in Maine supermarkets) and Tanzania (Google helpfully turned up a scant handful of recipes, all of which called for "bush meat"), Bug obligingly chose Italy. Piece o'cake. Well, piece o' tiramisu. That and two cheese pizzas from the local pizzeria, and my contribution to Country Night was done.
Again proving that she is her mother's daughter, Bug loved sampling all of the different foods:
I'm assuming that this look Bug gave me while she was standing on the stage means, "Exactly how many pictures are you planning on taking, Mom?" That or she was spontaneously channeling Mussolini. She's always had a soft spot for fascist dictators, as was demonstrated by her behavior from ages one until three.