Keira, my two-year-old, very outgoing daughter (a total girly girl), was asked to be in a fashion show at a local department store. She was quivering with excitement when I took her to pick out the outfit she was to wear. She ran to the rack where the clothes were hanging, and tugged at a pink outfit. “That’s my fashion plate,” I thought as I caught up with her and pulled her little hands away.
The coordinator of the show took the outfit off the rack and was going to give it to another little girl. Keira was having none of that—she pulled away from me and ran to the woman. Looking up at her, with her little hands on her hips, she said in a very nice voice, “That’s mine. I want to wear that in the show, please.” The woman laughed and put it up against Keira.
“Alright,” she smiled, “That’s fine with me … Mom?” I wished the floor would have swallowed me up at that moment as the other child’s mother glared at me. I could only nod yes, grab the ticket for the outfit in one hand, and Keira’s hand in the other and bolt for the door.
The day of the fashion show could not come soon enough. Every day Keira would ask me if this was the day she would get her hair all curly, wear makeup, look beautiful, have her picture taken, and walk like a model. Every day, I had to tell her no.
The big day finally arrived. The children’s fashion show was wonderful. Proud moms beamed, holding movie cameras, cell phones, diaper bags, and of course clutching on to them, with chubby little hands, were the models.
Before the fashion show started, Keira, in her Fancy Nancy fashion show outfit, seemed distracted by something. I noticed her staring at what I thought was a clown making balloon animals for anyone who walked by. I asked her if she wanted a balloon animal and to my surprise, she shook her head, no. This was not the Keira I knew. She always begged and pleaded with me to get her a helium filled balloon. I knew something was up, especially when she would not budge from my side to get a helium filled animal balloon.
The fashion show started and when it was Keira’s turn, out she strutted and turned around a few times. Then she froze ...her eyes locked on something behind me in the crowd of clapping, laughing parents. With a wild look of what I could only assume was fear, she threw her accessory—a large Fancy Nancy book in the shape of a purse, into the audience, hitting a parent on the knee, and ran off the runway.
I turned to see what it was. Behind me was a person dressed in—of all things—a cow suit. Her grandfather was dancing with this horribly tall cow and giving it high-fives. I looked for my daughter who was nowhere in sight. I ran to the dressing room and ... there she was.
“Sorry, mommy. I throwed the purse.” “That’s ok, honey. What happened?”
This is what she said:
“I don’t like that cow … specially that big kind. I don’t like it to dance with Pop-Pop neider. I don’t want that cow by me never … ok?”
“What’s wrong with a guy dressed in a cow suit? Did he hurt you?”
“I jus don’t like it, mommy. That cow is a bad cow and bad cows don’t supposed to go where little girls are … that’s all. An bad cows don’t dance with my Pop-Pop neider. He’s my Pop-Pop, not that cow’s Pop-Pop and I don’t like him too.” I got the distinct impression that my child felt her grandfather had somehow betrayed her by dancing and playing around with that stupid cow.
Suddenly, outside of the dressing room I heard shouting and kids crying and the door burst open—a whole bunch of little girls that were in the fashion show crowded inside—the cow was standing outside the open door looking in.
Keira saw the cow and gave a little scream. “Mommy!” I jumped up and slammed the door in the cow’s face. All of the little girls were crying and saying they were afraid of that cow.
The coordinator of the show came in and asked me what was going on.
“I have no idea,” I replied. “But, I can tell you all of your models are terrified of that guy in the cow costume.”
“What? Really? All this crying and screaming is about a guy in a cow suit?” Moms were starting to come in to get their daughters and heard her but didn’t seem to understand what was going on. The dressing room soon emptied, leaving Keira and me alone again.
“Call the police, Mommy, and have that cow go to jail forever!” She wrapped her arms around my neck as I picked her up.
“Don’t worry, Keira, the cow is probably gone now. Lets go find Pop-Pop and go home, ok?” She rested her messy curls against my shoulder and I could feel her tears of fear wet on my cheek.
“Ok, mommy. Tell Pop-Pop to punch that cow if it tries to get me, ok?” I promised and opened the door. There was her grandfather dancing with that COW again.
“Come on, Ray, lets go. Tell your little friend goodbye.” I walked as fast as I could and stayed as far away from the cow as possible as I rushed my frightened child down the aisle away from the cow—her grandfather hurrying after me and the cow hurrying after Pop-pop.
Later that evening as we sat eating dinner, her daddy asked her about the fashion show. She turned and looked at me, her eyes wide with renewed fear.
“Daddy, there was this COW an … an Pop-Pop danced wift it and everything.” Her words exploded out of her like a cannon.
“What? A cow … at a fashion show?” He looked at me as if wanting to ask if our daughter had lost her mind.
“Yes, Daddy … a huge-mongus COW an … an the cow … he was a bad cow, Daddy. He ...an Pop-pop played high five an ...the cow was dancin’ wift Pop-Pop...and Pop-Pop was dancin’ wift the cow . . .” she paused and looked down, her eyes filling with tears, “Pop-Pop ...don’t punch that cow ...Pop-Pop liked that cow.” Her voice almost a whisper.
Her father leaned over and in a whisper said, “I’ll find that cow and I’m going to give him such a punch and then I’m going to tell Pop-Pop to say he’s sorry for playing with the cow when he knew you were afraid of it.”
She lifted her head and smiled really big, “Daddy, punch that cow right in the beans for me, ok?”
“You betcha, baby.” He pulled her off her booster seat and swung her around causing her to laugh out loud.
Her grandfather apologized for playing with the bad cow and everything seems back to normal. But, on occasion, when we are in that department store:
“That cow’s gone, Mommy? Daddy punched it right in the beans for me? He won’t bodder me no more, right?”
I assure her that she has nothing to worry about.
Even though I complained about the person’s behavior, the department store did nothing about it. It was just one little girl who was scared of a guy in a cow suit. Next time, I was told, don’t sign her up for the fashion show if I did not like the idea of her being around a costumed person entertaining children.
Sometimes, people wearing costumes don’t realize what they do to children who are not prepared to see them outside of Disneyland or Halloween. They need to know that if a child acts afraid of them—it’s because they are, especially two- and three-year-old little girls.