I went out of my comfort zone this year and embraced the fact that I am a card carrying member of the PTA, soccer mom and taxi cab service. So when the email went out with the charge to the PTA board members to help out for two hours dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog for the Heritage Elementary students during the Scholastic Book Fair, I went ahead and raised my paw, er, hand.
Don't I look cute and cozy?! My two hour stint as Clifford was quite fun and rewarding. Here are five things I learned today that you might want to keep in mind if you ever decide to volunteer to wear a mascot costume.
1. IT'S HOT. I was happy that it was 35 outside but in the sweatsuit that is Clifford, it was 127 degrees. You think I'm kidding. I could feel sweat dripping down my back just getting the suit on. I decided to wear an Under Armour shirt and capri workout pants. They were both completely saturated after my two hour tour. My hair was matted down and my makeup had melted away. But hey, all for the kids, right!?
2. It doesn't matter what age, everyone loves a mascot. The reception of Clifford was pretty impressive. This week, grandparents were invited to join their grandbabies for lunch and head to the book fair for some early Christmas shopping. The nannas and papas of the lunchroom were just as excited to see Clifford as the kindergarteners! But perhaps the most surprising was the reaction of the 4th and 5th graders. I felt like I was walking the red carpet with all of the iPads and cameras. There were hugs and squealing, high fives and pets. I think it was a pleasant reminder of their childhood.
3. The kids will do their best to figure out who is inside the suit! It was a little weird to wear this giant fishbowl Clifford head and have people staring into your screens for eyes. I kept thinking "Can they see me?" Awkward! It was mostly the older kids, but starting in 2nd grade, it was definitely on. The kids thought I was their principal, Mr. Maxson, or the assistant principal, Mrs. Stricklen. There were words of excitement when they could see it was a woman behind the big red head. My daughter and her classmates did figure out it was me which really was a treat.
4. It's hard not to talk. I am a talker by nature so to have to be completey silent was very foreign. There were only a few instances where I wanted to yell for help or ask the kids to settle down. I was being squeezed to death by a gaggle of second graders and couldn't tell them to please stop and I couldn't yell to a teacher to rescue me! Plus, it's odd to pose for pictures and realize that you don't have to smile!
5. You aren't very mobile or agile. I felt like I was pregnant again. I had the belly of the third trimester and couldn't see feet. In fact, I couldn't see below my eyes, which really isn't good when 95% of the school population is under five feet tall. If I had to bend over to hug a child, I was risking having my head fall off so I couldn't tell you half the kids I hugged and high-fived. The slipper paws were giant and had part of the protective bottom coming off. I had to high-step every so often so I wouldn't trip over my own feet. But, I was able to perform the "sprinkler" and Gangnam style with ease.
All in all, it was a great experience. Fun. Yes. Hot. Definitely. Would I do it again? Sure. Tomorrow? Probably not...