Oh, how I adore a school dress up day! Said no parent ever. OK, so seeing all the excited kids running into class this morning in their little outfits was very cute but behind each one of those little get-ups is a load of effort, time and/or money and almost certainly a good few arguments.
It is World Book Day this week. I think it is actually tomorrow but, for some reason, the school did the dressing up element today. We were, thankfully, given plenty of notice about this one (which is not always the case with these things) and I was feeling pretty smug about being rather well prepared. I had decided to go down the buying and borrowing route, rather than actually making anything this time. Cheap enough, through the power of eBay.
So, I’ve had a little ladybird costume and a Peter Pan outfit in the cupboard for weeks. The ladybird is from Julia Donaldson’s What the Ladybird Heard, a book that M really loves (and you can also buy a ladybird skirt, boppers, wings and wand on eBay for about a fiver so everyone’s a winner). And Peter Pan? Well, it was cheap and easy. OK, so H hasn’t actually read Peter Pan, but he has seen the Disney film lots of times. That must count, right? Besides, after weeks of discussion, with him rejecting all my ideas but not coming up with any suggestions of his own, I gave up and opted for the boy in green.
So, there I was, feeling all smug. Until Friday. H came running out of class saying “Mummy, we have a problem”. H often finds problems where there are none but I could see that he thought this one was serious as he had a very earnest look on his face and his lip was beginning to go. A sure sign that a meltdown was on the way if I didn’t nip it in the bud.
I got H to take a deep breath to calm down and explain what was wrong. It seems there had been a pep talk in class from the teacher saying that it was very important that the kids dress up for World Book Day as a character from a book they have read and love, not just any old character. Not only that but each kid would be expected to stand up in class, explain why they chose their character and read an extract from the book. Oh dear.
A lot of kids wouldn’t have worried about this 11th hour request. Many would shrug it off and go in dressed as Spider-Man or Elsa, just because they wanted to. Not our H. He takes everything he is told in school very seriously. He said there was no way he could go as Peter Pan because he hadn’t read it. He was beginning to get tearful and was clearly very worried about it. He said he simply had to go as his favourite book character, Stick Dog.
H isn’t the most widely read 7-year old. Until recently, he was pretty reluctant to pick up a book at all, to be honest. Then along came Stick Dog. He is the star of a series of funny and easy to read books by Tom Watson that H has simply fallen in love with. He has read these books by himself and I’ve read them to him and M as bedtime stories. They roll about laughing at them and love the pictures. The only problem with H wanting to go dressed as Stick Dog is that Stick Dog looks literally as his name suggests. A stick dog. Like a stick man, but a dog. How the hell do you make a costume for that?!
Well, it was either face a weekend of sobbing and misery or relent and say goodbye to Peter Pan and hello to Stick Dog. It is amazing what you can do with an old Shreddies box, a lamb ears headband from last Easter, sticky tape and crayons. Of course H made hardly any of it but, after an hour or so, I had created a sort of Stick Dog headband/hat and dug out some brown clothes. H was utterly delighted with the end result and went in this morning happily wagging his doggy tail (made from one leg of an old pair of my tights, tied to his belt loop) and clutching his Stick Dog book.
I am actually very grateful to Stick Dog and his author Tom, so I wasn’t too upset about having to make him. Before Stick Dog came into our lives, I was pulling my hair out trying to get H to discover the joy of reading. So I suppose it is not only right but also a fitting tribute to this most excellent canine that we made an effigy of him to mark World Book Day. Thank you Stick Dog.
So, both kids happy. All good, right? Wrong. As if getting out the house with three kids wasn’t hard enough, things went particularly sour this morning. All this exciting dressing up led to a massive 2-year old meltdown from little T.
I was prepared for him to be jealous of the costumes so I took him to the dressing up box and helped him pick what he wanted to wear. He opted for a fairy and I duly fitted him out with wings, a wand (slightly bent but fixed with sellotape) and boppers, like his big sister. He was happy with that for about 30 seconds before deciding that he actually had to be exactly like his sister and dress as a ladybird. Well,we only had one ladybird outfit, natch. Cue much screaming and yelling, refusing to get jumper and shoes on, etc, etc.
We finally got to school and were surrounded by excited kids dressed in all sorts of weird and wonderful outfits that their poor parents had created/bought and, for a moment, all the trials suddenly felt like they were worth it. Both my two were full of smiles, delighted to be showing off their costumes to their mates, happily chatting about the books their characters were from. I’d finally got to the point beyond the stress and effort when I could remember what World Book Day dressing up was all supposed to be about.
So, I walked my moany toddler home (minus wings which he had throw off in disgust because they were not red and spotty), had a cuppa and breathed a sigh of relief. It was done. Until the next dress up day, that is. And just think, in a couple of years, when T is at school, I’ll have THREE outfits to put together for World Book Day! My cup runneth over.
Oh, and if anyone needs a Peter Pan costume, I have one going begging.
Happy World Book Day.