Princess in a Parka

October 20, 2011
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By Dorothy Bloy

THE PRINCESS COSTUME I put together for Halloween 1972 was going to be the best one ever. Rummaging through the basement cedar closet, I found a pink satin dress my older sister had worn to a dance years before. My mother said I should go for it! Mom and I splurged on a bejeweled tiara and plastic golden “heels” at John’s Bargain Store. With the entire ensemble, banana curls set the night before, and sparkle lip gloss, I was going to be the most fabulous princess to ever walk the streets of my neighborhood.

Then it happened. Overnight temperatures plummeted into the 20s. On Halloween Day, the sun showed up, but only so I could more clearly see the puffs of my frosty breath. My mother handed me my coat and sighed, “At least it’s pink,” she said. I didn’t want to wear it, but I knew I wouldn’t make it one block in my wispy princess dress without it. Who ever heard of a princess in a parka? As I pulled that coat over my beautiful costume, I could feel my face grow hot with disenchantment. Now I was a princess in a parka, with a puss!

At times like those, I really don’t know how my mother kept a straight face or alternatively choked back the tears. But I do know this. She never let me feel hopeless. It is a parent’s unfortunate duty to help their child deal with disappointment. Although it never feels like a gift at the time, disappointments allow us an opportunity to give our children the tools they need to function well socially and emotionally—each experience an endowment of strong character. Looking back, I realize my mother did three things. She remained optimistic and never presented the world as a cruel or mean place. She sympathized and usually came up with an example of how she or one of my siblings felt when a similar thing happened to them. And she would eventually get me to laugh, because humor topped the list of coping tools. Luckily, Mom knew the formula to bring out the inner princess or prince in anyone.

Dorothy Bloy lives in Middletown

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