Please forgive me for not posting any pictures of my darling little ones in their Roald Dahl Day costumes this week.
You see, the thing is, we suck at school dress-up days. In our house, school dress-up days provoke a level of emotional fervour normally only associated with nineteenth century melodrama. And in any case, a photo of a child going blue in the face because of breathing problems caused by an admittedly cheap Mr Twit beard, pictured alongside a child whose face is so puffed up from twenty minutes of non-stop crying she looks more like Jupiter than Matilda, is a clear breach of the Facebook Picture Posting Etiquette Guide.
Take last year's World Book Day as an example.
It started well, as is so often the case, with the ten-year-old announcing that she wanted to go as 'Gangsta Granny'.
"We can sort that in ten minutes!", I said smugly.
And so, grabbing a granny wig from the dress-up box, a cardie my mother bought me from the 'Per Una' range (oooh, thanks mum, I especially love the pearlised buttons and embellished trim), and other bits and pieces, I threw them over her, like a total pro.
"There!" I said proudly. "Gangsta Granny!"
She studied herself in the mirror.
"Sick", she said. "Thanks mam."
But then, the following morning, with less than seven minutes to go before we needed to leave the house for the school run, and with me fannying about looking for the front door keys using a new beeping Trackr device that incidentally is only audible if you’re fucking Wolverine, there was an inhuman shriek from the dining room.
"I look ugly! Fat AND ugly!"
The ten year old was staring at herself in the mirror, wearing the Gangsta Granny costume.
"It's fancy dress", I said lightly. "It's not a fashion show."
"I look like a pig!" she said, her face morphing into The Scream face. "A disgusting fat PIG!"
"Go as Peppa Pig then" piped up the eight year old, who was only half listening.
"I HATE you, you're an idiot", she turned to him.
"Quiet" I said, "Both of you. We've got to leave in SIX minutes!"
But it was too late. The granny wig flew across the dining room towards the eight-year-old, knocking a cereal bowl full of coco pops out of his hand.
"Clean it up, both of you!" I yelled.
I returned to the kitchen to get kitchen roll. Finding another costume, now, was impossible. But at the same time, I remembered how, one St David's Day, my mother forced me to wear a traditional stove pipe hat to school, a tall shiny construction handmade by our cousin Winnie. The hat was the millinery equivalent of the Burj Khalifa, with scalloped frills that hung on either side of my face like humongous labia. The other girls, all of whom wore adorable little bonnets bought from Tesco, giggled nervously when they saw me. The boys sang The Grand Old Duke of York.
I didn't want my daughter to feel the same as I'd felt.
|Channelling Abraham Lincoln. An approximation of how I looked on that fateful St. David's Day.|
"Sweetheart. You don’t have to dress up in anything if you don’t want to", I said. "Just go in your school uniform. Loads of parents will have forgotten."
"No they won't", she said. "Only YOU forget stuff.”
"What about Veruca Salt then?" I said, trying to stay calm. "We've got all the stuff upstairs. I could bring it down to you in school."
"Noooooooooooooooo", she wailed. "You're SO embarrassing." "You don’t care about me!"
"Of course I care about you. Stop being silly!"
I bundled the other two in the car, leaving the front door wide open. Because, you know, when you're THIS stressed, who gives a fuck about possessions.
"Get in the car", I said to the ten-year-old, who was now weeping in a way that recalled a 'You Tube' video of North Koreans lamenting the death of Kim-Jong-il.
"We'll discuss it when we get to school."
"We'll discuss it when we get to school."
The next hour was a blur. At school, I headed for the classroom to tell the teacher about the Gangsta Granny debacle, leaving the ten-year-old wailing in the car. In Asda, I bought an Alice-in-Wonderland-type-thing, which was too small and cost a fortune, (although at the time I'd have refinanced the house for a headband with the right fucking detailing), then drove my daughter back to school. And then, just as I was parking up at home, I remembered the 50p for the Infants' Section bastard book fair and drove back to school for a third time. And so, it wasn't until later, whilst I was wiping milk off the Gangsta Granny wig, and making a mental list of the pros and cons of suicide vs home-schooling, I realised I'd forgotten to take photographs for Facebook.
PS: This year's Roald Dahl Day was not as calamitous. After hacking massive chunks off the Mr Twit Beard using a nail scissors found in my bag, (thereby allowing the eight-year-old to breathe normally), and promising the six-year-old that if she stopped crying for just one second over the girl next door’s Veruca Salt costume (which was "prettier" than hers), I'd organise a colossal truckload of Starmix to be delivered straight to her bedroom door, everything was finally ok. So, you know, coolio. See you at the next dress-up day folks!