Now for the first time in living memory, the sun is shining so it feels a bit mean-spirited to complain – but I’m afraid I’m going to anyway. I HATE all these dress-up days at school. With three children I am perpetually producing a Roman one week, Harry Potter the next, Princess Whatever the following week and, oh yes, world wildlife day – a turtle. These costume days seem to have been specifically designed to yet again show up my parenting inadequacies.
When the children were younger, I sweated over making costumes myself, being all “Blue Peter” and “double-sided sticky tape” about it – it never worked because I am not creative like that and nor am I competitive enough. I remember the Easter Bonnet parade (supposedly a parade of hats made by the children) at my children’s old school being more like a Philip Treacy catwalk show – don’t try and tell me that your children had any input in those creations – don’t believe it for a second. I am never going to be able to compete in that arena so my children would turn up in creations which hadn’t been made by them either but had been made by me – whose artistic abilities rival a 3 year old’s – and were therefore disastrous, bordering on pathetic.
Then I had a thunderbolt moment. One of my sons was a shepherd in his school play and I had to provide the costume. I could feel the familiar sense of dread and panic setting in at yet another test of my creative skills and just while I was musing whether I could get away with one of my husband’s ties as his belt (answer: I could have done in the 70s but not now when school plays are as slick and professional as Broadway productions), it came to me. Why am I doing this? What am I trying to prove? My skill sets lie elsewhere so why am I wasting my time on something which always make me feel useless and which the children equate with ritual humiliation as the models for my “creations”? Buy them…BUY THEM….of course, that’s what I should do. And I did. Off to the supermarket, £7.99 for full-on shepherd’s outfit including rubber crook – bargain.
I haven’t looked back since then and now my first stop when the inevitable letter arrives home from school about some or other dress-up day is “Amazon” – a couple of clicks and problem solved and not any more expensive than buying all the material and bits and pieces to cobble together myself. Result: my kids are happy because they look normal rather than a poor excuse for a Roman/Harry Potter/Princess Whatever/turtle and I’m happy because I’ve averted a wave of inadequacy. OK so there will probably be 10 other Romans/Harry Potters/Princess Whatever (may be not turtles?) decked in the same garb (because, as I now realise, a lot of people do the same), but I don’t care and they certainly don’t – safety in numbers.
One note of warning. Last year, I got so carried away and warmed to my theme a little too enthusiastically. At my son’s old school, they would come dressed as characters from their favourite books on World Book Day. So what did I do on World Book Day at the new school? Sent my son dressed as his favourite character. What were the other children wearing? School uniform. Humiliation for my son and another black mark against my parenting record (one of many)….oh well, character-building for all concerned, I’m sure.