Halloween 2014: The Big Friendly Giant

Posted by jdg | Friday, October 31, 2014 | ,

My daughter is a tiny thing. There's no use denying it. At school recitals and other events we see how the top of her head hardly reaches the chin of the next shortest kid in her class. She doesn't seem to mind too much and by now it's become a part of her personality. There are things she likes about being little. When she plays flag football with the hulking, sweaty boys in her class, they can't reach down far enough to grab her flags. It takes longer to outgrow her favorite clothes. And there are things she doesn't like about being little. Younger kids try to pick her up. People often ask if she and her six-year-old brother are twins.

Halloween is still a huge deal at our house. The planning begins early. I go way overboard. It is the great holiday of childhood, when for a few magical hours scattered over a few days in late October, a kid can become whoever or whatever they want to be.

Leave it to the tiniest kid in class to want to be a giant.

I have already written about how much my daughter loves Roald Dahl's magical book The BFG, and how much joy and comfort that book has brought her. For the last seven months, it's been pretty much a given that she wanted to be the Big Friendly Giant for Halloween. I would throw out other suggestions but her responses were tepid at best. This was what she wanted. I just needed to figure out a way for the nine-year-old girl who still can't go on most of the rides at the county fair to tower over all her friends.

So I built her some stilts.

I was pretty sure this was going to be a disaster. My wife had no faith in the stilt option. I cobbled some foot-tall peg stilts from leftover wood, leather, and velcro that I had in the basement. I cut up an old bike tire for the bottoms. I wasn't super confident that this would work myself, but half an hour later she first found her balance and I couldn't get her out of them. I think she really liked the view from up there.

The next morning there was an event at school and she walked up to her entire class wearing them and I don't think I've ever seen her smile like that. She walked an entire mile in those stilts. I felt confident at that point we could incorporate them into her costume.

Her mom made her some super long pants. The head was tricky. I thought about using a bald wig and some fake ears on a headband, but I have so much scrap leather it was simple to cobble together a hat with gigantic ears and rabbit-fur eyebrows. There's even some rabbit fur in the ear canal and some on the back of the head.

It was a more permanent option than a bald wig, so if she wants to play BFG in the future all she needs to do is slip on her hat.

One of the kids' favorite Halloween activities (even more than trick-or-treating, I think) is the photo shoot where we try their costumes on for the first time and go some place magical that really brings them to life. The BFG is a very large gentleman with questionable English who farts a lot and lives in a cave he only leaves to catch dreams he blows through a magical trumpet into little houses and he eventually visits the Queen of England in her palace. We don't have a Queen in Detroit, and the closest thing we've ever had to a king is Henry Ford. So went out to his personal fiefdom of Dearborn and took some pictures near his palace at Fair Lane, where there is also a cave and a tiny farmhouse where the Ford children played.

If you see a big-eared giant towering over you this Halloween, don't worry. I can guarantee he's friendly.

(Just stay back a few feet in case he needs to whizpop).