Tomorrow is book character day at school – the day school is invaded by a mini fictional force made up of Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, Angelina Ballerina and other favourite storybook characters.
It’s all part of book week, during which we’re invited to send in money so our kids can spend it at a book fair (or attempt to buy crisps instead, as I suspect my son might try), take part in the Gazillion Minutes of Reading @ Home initiative (okay, it’s a million, not gazillion) and come up with a costume for the dress-up day.
Don’t get me wrong. I do think all this is great – I absolutely love reading, and trying to impart a love of reading to my sons has been really rewarding, as has watching BB learn to read.
It’s the dress-up part that’s bothering me. Because tomorrow BB will go to school wearing a pair of too-small yellow plastic trousers (part of an old fireman’s outfit), a T-shirt emblazoned with a train and a kids’ pilots hat – the dishevelled assembled sum of which is meant to make him look like a steam train driver from his Flying Scotsman book.
Even he knows it’s a crumb-y costume. And I know there will be outfits that mums will have spent ages making. Costumes that originated from Pinterest and were then lovingly hand sewn and accessorised.
Still, it’s not that I didn’t try. I’m just having a crazy busy week, with a new freelance job (ironically, for the PR company handling the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, which we dragged the boys to this weekend and STILL failed to come home with a suitable book) and I haven’t had a spare minute.
After work today, I sped into our local bookstore, practically setting the paperbacks alight, to try to buy a Fireman Sam book, to go with the old fireman costume I knew was hanging in the cupboard (they not only have to dress up, but also take the book in).
“Do you have Fireman Sam?” I asked the man in the bookshop hopefully.
“No,” he replied after glancing briefly at his computer screen.
“How about any book about firemen, perhaps?” I tried.
“No, nothing,” he said, shaking his head (and I’m sure he laughed, sensing my desperation).
I tried to persuade BB he could wear his Halloween costume instead. “Look, we can use a pen to colour in the skeleton so it looks like a normal pirate’s outfit,” I trilled, as he looked on glumly.
“Or maybe your brother’s spiderman top will fit.”
“That’s a film, mum.”
“I want to go as a dog,” he finally said, getting excited at last. “Floppy the dog from my phonics book. Can you make a dog costume? Please, mummy, please make me a dog suit?”
And mums who work and also leave things like this to the eleventh hour will know exactly what the answer to that request is.