First, let me just say that Son2 loves to dress up, and finds it a big thrill to go to school in anything other than his navy-blue shorts and pinstriped, button-up shirt. In his closet, you’ll find plenty of costumes depicting numerous genres, from spiderboy to alien, vampire and terrorist. Yes, you read that correctly: he came downstairs this weekend looking like this:
But every time the school announces a special theme day, I have to admit my heart sinks a little bit. I can’t sew; if you handed me a piece of fabric I’d have no idea what to do with it; and the prop that would accessorise an outfit perfectly is never just lying around the house. It’s usually buried at the bottom of a cupboard, lost, broken or still in the shop.
And I’ve come to realise that this is a universal problem: there’s my good friend in London who had to come up with “a simple homemade fez” – with a tassel. (“We want the tassels to swirl when the children dance,” the teacher said.) Then there’s the kind commenters on my blog who’ve dressed their child up as a triangle and seriously considered crocheting a pilot’s hat after trawling the mall and finding nothing.
Oh yes, we mums do try when faced with these challenges – because you just know that there will be crafty mothers who got straight onto Pinterest. Not to mention that on, say, Book Character Day, school will be invaded by a mini fictional force made up of Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, Angelina Ballerina and other favourite storybook characters. The look on your child’s face if their outfit is a laughing stock is enough to make any otherwise sane mum start cutting up the curtains.
I’ve even heard of dads having to get in on the act too, in some cases taking over as costume-deviser extraordinaire, and sewing! Another friend tells me her DH is the go-to person for dress-up days; for an Easter Bonnet parade, he constructed a spring hat with a giant carrot protruding from the top, which we were all still talking about the next year – a pilot by profession, creative genius in his spare time.
In the Circles household, given enough notice, I’m able to dispatch DH to a costume shop in New York on one of his trips here (yes, we cheat, big time!); and he came up trumps last term, with a ghoulish-grey Area 51 costume and mask for the day aliens landed on the playing field at Son2’s school.
The news that today would be African Explorer Day came a week ago, just as the reality of getting back to the grind was hitting, and saw me arguing vehemently with Son2 at 7 this morning over why he couldn’t take that stonking big nerf gun pictured above into class (huntsman, explorer, it was all the same to him).
As we got out of the car, Son2 – donned in hurriedly assembled safari-type garb and wearing binoculars round his neck – got cold feet. No-one was in costume! Mum must have got it wrong! (I hadn’t, it was only for his year). I did wonder for a moment – until, at the gate, we saw a stressed-looking mum with a teary, uniform-clad child, being asked by a teacher if they had anything at home resembling the mishmash my son was wearing. As she headed off (upset boy in tow) to figure it out, I ’m sure she must have wished dress-up days could be outlawed too.