Blue Kangaroo

A little story about one of my most memorable Halloween costumes. Just because.

“Hold your horses.” Mom glanced up at me with a smile.

I bounced up and down eyeing the kangaroo she sat finishing for me. It wasn’t just any kangaroo; it was a blue mama kangaroo with a tiny pouch that fit an even tinier joey. My obsession with animals and their babies had grown for years.

My mom worked tirelessly on my new crochet stuffed animal, and she was finishing the baby. When she got the last stitch tied off and tucked away, I stared in awe.

“It’s yours now.” She held it out to me.

I snatched it up in a tight bear hug. “I’ll take care of you,” I promised.

My childish brain had decided that I was to be the grandma since my kangaroo mommy was mine and she had her own baby. It never occurred to me that most kids just wanted to play the mom because I often enjoyed playing the grandma. I loved how close we all were to my mom’s mom.

The women in my family have always had a strong bond. No matter how far we traveled or how much time passed between visits, all the women on my mother’s side of the family continued to share a link that binds us for life. That link often kept my mother going. We didn’t have much when I was young and she had to work hard jobs.

Always on her feet, she spent most of her time trying to make sure we had enough to cover the bounced checks she sometimes had to write just so we could eat. My father made good money, so I didn’t understand why we struggled. It was just life.

His habit with the bottle had consumed him and it led to financial problems. My sister and I often had to look to our mom as a beacon in the dark. She did everything she could to repair any damage done.

One of her ways of getting us through rough times was making things herself. She wasn’t much of a cook, but she could sew and crochet like a master. My new kangaroo wasn’t just a toy; it was love, the love my mom offered in order to make up for what she couldn’t afford to buy us. Clothes from goodwill and my cousins didn’t embarrass me as much when she offered me something new that she had sat down to make herself.

I loved my kangaroos so much that when fall came and my mom asked, “What do you want to be for Halloween?” I knew my answer for weeks.

“A blue kangaroo!” I started practicing my best giant kangaroo hop. Nothing in the world seemed as fun as getting to be a giant kangaroo with my toy kangaroo in its own pouch.

My mom loved the idea. “I think I could make that.”

She always got a special twinkle in her eye when she thought about patterns and designs. It was almost as if she could see them dancing in the air between us. That gaze never ceased to amaze me. It was like magic.

She set to work that weekend. All she needed was a blue hoodie and sweatpants. She sewed the ears and tail on in no time, and re-stitched my hoodie pouch to open on top instead of the sides. The cost was minimal, but the effect it had on me was beyond value.

Stepping into my costume for the first time, it hugged my chubby body and I became a kangaroo kid. I grabbed my crocheted joey. With delicate hands, I placed her in the pouch as if I were setting a newborn baby in its bassinet.

“You look silly.” My sister laughed.

“Oh yeah?” I made a face at her and started bouncing around and flailing my arms to look even sillier.

She and my mom laughed so hard I couldn’t wait for Halloween. When the big day came I proudly donned my costume. My sister went as a sock-hop girl and followed me from apartment to apartment as I bounced ahead the entire time.

My mom always tried her best to keep up with us. I know it couldn’t have been easy after long shifts on her feet, but she let us run loose since it was a special occasion. We got so many compliments on our costumes I felt proud. It was a welcome contrast to being teased for not having cool new clothes.

Afterwards we were allowed a few pieces of candy before bed. Sitting on the floor beside my sister, we counted up everything we’d gotten. “Can I sleep in my costume?” I asked.

My sister eyed me like I was crazy.

Mom looked down at us, blushing. “With that tail?”

“I can pull it next to me.” I propped myself onto my knees and hugged my tail. Then I clasped my hands before her. “Please, please, please?”

She looked to my dad who smiled and nodded. She raised her eyebrows. “Okay. But I don’t want to hear you complaining in the middle of the night.”

I leapt up to give her a hug and had one of the most restful night’s sleeps I’ve ever had.

We were going through some old storage boxes and found this costume this year. My 9-year-old fell in love with it and is going as my blue kangaroo. She loves the costume grandma made.

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