The Missing Costume (On Show Night)

Working with children is one of the most fulfilling things I have done in my life. To know that I have made a difference is something that cannot be measured in dollars and cents, nor can it be explained by letters on a computer screen. Suffice it to say that I've learned that love has no max capacity.

Or maybe I've just have the most special students in all the world, which is entirely possible. Just ask their parents!

I taught Music at a private, Christian school for 8 school years to K-8th graders. One part of my job was to direct the school's two musicals. It was a big production on a small budget. Depending on the year, there were roughly 80 kids on stage at once, close to 100 when preschool joined us for a song or two. The whole school sang in the choir and included drama and solo parts. In less than 3 months, somehow we manage to learn 6 or 7 songs and memorize parts for a 45 minute show. Three months may seem like a long time, but we only had Music class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My kids were amazing!!!

I can go on and on about my job and about my students. Really, I could, but we'll move on to the story.

Since we were on a small budget, when it came to costumes, we begged, borrowed, and... well, didn't steal, but we did our fair share of begging and borrowing! For our Christmas performance one year, there were 3 kids that played the roles of janitors. We managed to find 3 coveralls and, since they were borrowed, I didn't give them to the kids until the day before the show because I didn't want them to get lost. You know how it is: child puts costume in backpack, backpack goes home, backpack gets unloaded along with the newest glitter creation of the day, and somehow it ends up under the bed with stinky socks and all the healthy food that mom or dad packed for their lunch and told them they had to eat.

So, the day before the big night I handed out the coveralls. The next day one of the kids brought the coveralls back so he could practice with them. (He was very eager! He was also GREAT at his part! I could start bragging, but I'll spare you...for now.)

As most directors, I am a total stress case the day of the program. When the coveralls showed up at our last rehearsal and then got left behind, I knew that in my heightened state of freak-out I should be sure this costume gets put somewhere that it would not get lost.

So, I put it in a…place. (Cue foreboding music.)

The bit night approached, always ever-so-suddenly and, before I knew it, there I was, pacing the floor, waiting for kids to arrive and checking to see what I could have possibly missed. At 6:30pm the drama kids arrived. I made my rounds, making sure they got mics, props, and checked over their costumes to make sure everything was there. I got through all the kids, but at 6:40 I realized that I was missing one. Where is he???

As I headed toward the foyer of the building, I saw him.  He wasn't in costume. Yikes!

"Mrs. Mickel, Zach lost his costume."

Lost his costume?

In a stunned reply, I said to Zach, "I remember you brought it to school…"

"Yeah!"  Zach says.  "And I left it in the chapel."

Apparently, he thought he was supposed to leave it for me.

Ok.  At this point, I couldn't remember anything past seeing the costume in the chapel.  I didn't remember if I picked it up and ran it to Zach's classroom or that I put it in a "safe place." (Cue foreboding music again.)  I couldn't remember anything at all.  What I DID know is that if this was my fault, I was going to feel really..really...really bad!!!  This was Zach's first program with a speaking part.  Not just that, but he also had a little dance number.  Zach is a born entertainer and I had been looking forward to seeing him shine on that stage since he was in Kindergarten.  "I MUST FIND THAT COSTUME!" I said to myself, many times over.

I looked at the clock and saw that we had 20 minutes until show time.  Let's see...5 minutes home, 2 minutes of looking, 5 minutes back. "I can do this!" I thought.

And so, off I flew like a bat out of a Scooby-Doo episode.  I got home, tore out of my car, and began searching the house, the garage, the trunk of my car, the inside of the infamous Expedition...everywhere I could think of.  When I didn't see the costume, I begin to ransack my husband's wardrobe to find something Zach could wear.  I pulled out a flannel or two and headed out.

On my way back to the church I thought, "Hey!  I'll bet Zach took the costume back to class with him since I told him to make sure to not forget it at rehearsal today and then he must have forgotten to put it in his backpack.  Yeah!  That MUST be what happened!"

8 minutes until showtime. I calculated: 10 minutes to the school, 30 seconds of looking, 10 minutes back...I won't be TOO late.  Ok.  Let's do this!

So, off I flew like a mom running late, trying to get her kids to school on time. (Not that I know what that's like or anything…)  I unlocked the classroom door, searched wildly, and to my dismay, did not find the costume.

Office!  Maybe it's in the office!

I ran to the office, unlocked the door, tore inside, unlocked my office door, and began searching.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Under this thing?  Nope. In that corner? Nope.

I gave up.  I was late for the show, I had no costume and, as Survivor would say, the search was over.

On my way back to the church I was thinking, "Oh, please don't let this put Zach in a tailspin!  Please don't let it be so unnerving for him that it ruins his whole night.  Oh, please, please, please!"

Once I arrived, I threw the flannel over Zach's back while hurriedly explaining to a nervous 3rd grader that his costume is lost, he has to wear this.  While rolling up his sleeves, I assured him that he was going to do an amazing job, I had total confidence in him, and, "Wow! This new costume looks GREAT!"

On with the show!  I had the not-so-wonderful privilege of letting the audience know why we were starting 10 minutes late.  There was no sense in saying something like, "Due to technical difficulties..."  No, all that means is, "Hey!  I was running late." I had to tell the truth.  A costume is missing and I'm not sure why.

Talk about feeling humiliated!

Despite the late start and missing costume, the show went fabulous.  No one in the audience knew which costume was missing because the flannel I put Zach in looked perfect, perhaps even better.  He did a fantastic job and I was so proud of how he was able to be flexible with the costume and still come out shining on stage.  I love that kid!

Two weeks later I was cleaning up my office.  I lifted up a lost sweatshirt and...wait!  What's that?  No.  It can't be.  I looked under there!  I picked up this same sweatshirt and looked under there!

There it was.  The costume, finally out of hiding.  Oh, thank goodness because it was slightly begged for and definitely borrowed.

However, I had some explaining to do to some parents… (Cue foreboding music.) I am happy to report that they took it well.

Another parent captured the night. Here's a video with Zach. He's the one in the flannel and holding a broom.

(Thank you, Zach's parents, for letting me post this story.  You have a great kid, there! And thank you, Zach, who is now old enough to either be embarrassed or entertained by the story, for letting me post this.)

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