Mili, with uncharacteristic decision for a 3 year old, only changed her mind once about what she wanted to be for Halloween. At first, she was set on Lilo from "Lilo and Stitch." But, as we read in Fancy Nancy (bless you Jane O'Connor for writing books that are frilly, sparkly, and actually worth reading) and Fancy Nancy tried on multiple costumes, there it was - a butterfly costume. Big, shiny, sparkly wings. And Mili was set.
After some internet research and complete and total Pinterest avoidance (that site is a plague to all the earth, ahem), I found a set of DIY instructions for wings that both Mili and I agreed looked like Fancy Nancy might wear. We set off one day for supplies, which included wire coat hangers and what not, and one of the stops was the dollar store. As we wandered the aisles hunting down wire hangers or pink nylons, lo and behold, there they were: cheap, flimsy butterfly wings that were all Mili had ever dreamed of, gauging from the stars in her eyes.
My first thought was very mentally loud and strong. No. No way would my daughter wear the cheapest, dinkiest, obviously dollar store butterfly wings for Halloween! I mean, how awful would that be?!
The next thought was quiet, a gentle whisper, and clearly a divine voice not my own, "Why not? Who is this costume for anyways?"
Those wings were all she wanted. They looked like she wanted. They were a color she wanted. They had glitter on them. They were everything her perfect little heart could imagine. And is her dressing up in a costume about me and how awesome of a parent I am going to look like? Or is it about moments of joy, the fun of dressing up and being, for a small moment, a butterfly soaring through the air?
I bought them.
The 5 minute drive home was unimaginably long for Mili as she clutched her precious wings to her chest. We raced up the stairs and she thrust them at me so I could remove the tags and packaging that were in her way. She strapped them on, climbed up on top of something to jump off of... Then stopped. "Mom, how do I make them flap?" When the answer was that these wings did not actually flap, those little stars slid out of her eyes, her smile dimmed, and after a few minutes, the wings lay discarded on the floor.
A prayer of thanks entered into my heart. Not thanks that my daughter had finally shown some sense of "taste" or thanks that I had time to talk her into something else, but thanks for the gift of dollar store wings. You know those amazing DIY wings I was going to make for her? Shiny, bedazzling, show-stopping? They would NOT HAVE FLAPPED. And with my time management skills would have only been finished in the nick of time to have been met with disappointment and one sad little girl without a Halloween costume that she wanted. I had no idea that she clearly thought it was a given that butterfly wings would always flap.
God's loving intervention through a quiet whisper in a dollar store aisle taught me not only to shelve my ridiculous pride and place my daughter first, but it taught me to look deeper, to ask better questions, and to never forget the magical place of a small child's imagination where it is still possible to fly, so long as you have wings that work.
So with time to spare before the Halloween parties began, I found a new DIY set of wings that would flap. Mili came with me and picked out the pink and purple felt. I cut and sewed away until I had a perfect set of wings. This time my hesitation from pride only lasted a second as I admired my hard work, then I handed over the paintbrush and the glitter fabric paint and Mili's reality became even better than her dreams as she got to give those wings a most thorough sparkly makeover herself. They were her wings, in her colors, that she had painted, and they flapped. She hasn't stopped flying since.