Ghosts, and hello to 11 | Maya's Gifts

Ghosts, and hello to 11

October 30, 2011

Dear One,

I imagine that this will be the last Halloween we spend as mother and daughter in costumes.  Frankly, I was surprised that you were interested in making a costume with your mom considering you are in Middle School.  You wanted to be a ghost.  When I wondered whether I could be a ghost with you or not, you said it would be fine.

So, delightfully, we broke out the backpack frames and enjoyed our October ritual of layering on strips of newspaper with soothing Paper Mache goop.  We love it.  It is a very calming experience.  You are always so eager to be a part of this creative process.  Even if it means hot gluing on discs for ghost yes or screens for our sheer mask.  And yes, you took joy in sewing on a machine for the first time and doing some seam ripping. 

We also had our pumpkin-carving bonanza.  This time, without dad, (he was away at a conference in Buffalo) and without power (we had the most unusual snowstorm…the fourth time it snowed in NYS since the 1820’s!).  You made a set of “snow-man pumpkins”.  One of them is a multicultural snowman as it had a white pumpkin as a base, a squash gourd as the middle and a mini-orange pumpkin for its head.  Your theme was “embracing diversity”.

My pumpkins had another theme. 

My 1% was white and pristine and the figures were filled with jewels.  The big one was scruffy and dirty and the figures were empty.  This reflected what is going on now at Occupy Wall Street.

I plan on heading to the Occupy Wall Street site to join the protest for a day.  You seemed interested, but very sweetly you voiced concern as you know [….] works there.  You were concerned you would run into them and offend them by being there.

Recently you attended your first co-rec.  Thankfully, you had an “okay” time. Sadly, you did not have a good, very good, or great time.  I am aware that these years are challenging ones.  Do you try to fit in and hang out with friends?  Do you work on claiming your individuality?  You did not hang out with most of your friends (I felt sad hearing this).  You stayed by yourself in the game room and played board games with Molly.  This was the highlight of your night.  When I came to get you, I understood why the dance floor was so unappealing.  It was excruciatingly loud music and dark, hot with hundreds of kids. No wonder you did not want to be there!

A few changes have come with being eleven.  You no longer will be naked in front of me.  When trying something on, you must cover yourself.  Generally, no breakfast in bed.  You rarely will sleep in our room on the floor by my bedside.  Earlier this month, when Uncle Hy and Grandma Norma spent the night, you needed to give up your bed. You really wanted to sleep on the couch.  I had to convince you that it would be too noisy down there, so you begrudgedly agreed to sleep on the floor in our bedroom.  You still call me “Mommy-moo” and I still call you, “Maya-moo”…but not in public!!!

November 4, 2011

Dear Maya,

A quick entry about Halloween.  We had a GREAT time.  The ghost costumes worked!  They were a hit! So VERY many people commented.  Dozens of people took photos of us.  Others wanted to be in photos WITH us.  We had a lot of fun!  Though we were undoubtedly ghosts, we did raise some questions.  People thought we were

  • Aliens
  • Lollipops
  • Q-Tips
  • and more.

It all generated so much fun and many laughs. 

There were a few challenges with walking down stairs, clearing low porch roofs and peripheral vision, but in the end, WE HAD A BLAST!  Thank you so much for sharing this holiday with me.  YOU ROCK!

All of the photos were from October 2011. Some of the photos were taken by Kristen Masson-Diedhiou


  • How beautiful, Elise. Just the fact that you wrote these letters to Maya speaks to what a conscious and devoted mother you are. Maya felt this, and knows this, I’m sure. Not to mention the fact that few working parents in this day and age (myself included) have the time and inclination to make homemade Halloween costumes from scratch. I hope you can find comfort in the fact that these experiences are real, and nothing can take them away from you. Eleven is such a precious age. I’m glad you enjoyed it so thoroughly.

    • Thank you, Yael, for all of this. The costume making ritual fed me so, and I continue to practice it to this day! There are sometimes that I feel Maya’s presence more strongly than others. Fall in general and Halloween in specific is one of them! xo

  • Elise, My heart is warmed at the love you and Maya shared, and continue to share. How special to know about the costume ritual, being creative together. It’s poignant, and touches my heart and soul. Thanks for being vulnerable, and sharing your strength. Love you.

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