The first time Kaylee came face to face with someone wearing a character costume was at Cameron’s birthday party earlier this year. We held his party at a pizza place with an attached arcade. Their mascot is a giant red dog, and he came in while we were eating our pizza to wish Cameron a happy birthday. Kaylee was seated in a high chair near the entrance with her back to the door. She didn’t see the dog initially, and he was right behind her when she finally noticed him. Well apparently having him right behind her scared the living daylights out of her. Despite being strapped into the high chair she began to desperately claw her way up my dad’s arm in order to get away from the dreaded dog.
Since that experience, Kaylee has had absolutely no love for any costumed characters. It’s always the same thing, we’ll see the character from across the room, and she’ll be extremely excited about the prospect of seeing one of her favorite characters…until of course the character comes within 15 feet of us, then she starts climbing up the leg or arm of whatever person happens to be nearest. And, as we found out in December, it isn’t limited to those in the big furry costumes. During our visit with Santa we found she’s also deathly afraid of clowns, and screamed in terror any time one came near us.
Then a few weeks ago while I was at a hockey game, they flashed up on the big screen that Dora the Explorer would be appearing at an upcoming game. The wheels of my mind started turning instantly. How great would it be to bring Kaylee to that game and allow her to meet her beloved Dora. But would she truly enjoy it? Or would she run away screaming, and be forever scarred by the experience. I finally decided that since Kaylee likes going to hockey anyway, I’d go ahead and take her to the game and we’d see what happened with Dora.
Saturday night, Matt stayed home with the boys, and I took Kaylee to the hockey game. I’d told her Dora was going to be at the game, so she was very excited as we made our way down to the arena. All of the kids love to be taken to hockey games, though I wonder if their excitement is actually for the game itself, or just the time out of the house with mommy. Most people wouldn’t take a two year old to a sporting event, but Kaylee is actually very good. Our seats are down on the glass, so it’s easier for her to get drawn into the game then it would be if we sat up higher. I’m also very prepared for a rambunctious toddler. I bring along plenty of snacks and other things to distract her if need be, including our iPod which is loaded with games for her to play.
We didn’t need them though, she was content sitting in my lap and watching the hockey players skate by. At one point she even stood up and banged on the glass, just like her mommy did. It was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen.
Near the end of the first period, I spotted Dora standing near the top of our section. I decided that it may be better for Kaylee if we tried to talk to Dora without a large crowd of people surrounding us. So I asked Kaylee if she was ready to meet Dora. She excitedly said yes! She was munching on a snack, and not quite finished, so I took it away and told her I’d give it back as soon as we’d finished with Dora. Well, that was a mistake. As I carried her up the steps to go and meet her idol, she was screaming and crying demanding that I give her snack back.
Once at the top of the steps, that all changed. She spotted Dora out of the corner of her eye, and the tears stopped. She was still clinging to my arm, and looked a little apprehensive but excited as well. I asked if she wanted to go and say hi to Dora, and she scrambled down out of my arms as fast as she could. She ran right over to Dora and started saying, “Hi Dora!” over and over again. She was still a couple feet away from Dora and I wasn’t sure if she’d get any closer or not. So I encouraged her to give Dora a hug. It only took a couple of promptings before she ran over and wrapped her arms around Dora’s legs.
I wanted so badly to get a picture of the two of them together. Usually have no difficulty in getting my little ham to stare directly into a camera and say cheese, but as she continually alternated between staring reverently at her idol and hugging her it wasn’t easy to get a picture.
I did finally manage to snap a couple of cute photos of the two of them, then seeing the crowd that was beginning to form decided it was time to move on. Kaylee was surprisingly okay with leaving Dora behind, giving her legs one last squeeze before joyfully shouting goodbye.
I’m quite certain she’s not completely over her fear of costumed folk. In fact, during the second intermission of the game the team’s mascot, a giant chicken, came skating out onto the ice. She was happy as a clam to watch him zoom around the ice and entertain the crowd…until of course he came skating down our end of the ice. Then, despite the glass, she began clawing her way up my arm until he’d skated away again.
But if we ever get the opportunity to meet Dora again, I’ll be sure that Kaylee is the first one in line.