You know when something awful has happened in your life and when you wake up in the morning there is that briefest of moments when you don’t remember it? For that one spark of time everything is okay and nothing has changed so as to be unrecognisable from how it was before. Then you do remember it. And you feel even worse because you can’t believe that you could have been so stupid to have considered that the catastrophic thing that has happened, hasn’t happened. Because it was so massive, how could you even have thought to forget? There is also the horrific event itself which you felt dreadful about anyway, which now you feel even worse about because for less than a second you thought it hadn’t happened and then you have to relive the horror all over again. I had those experiences when both of my grandparents died, when my stepfather lost his titanic battle against leukaemia and also now, to a lesser extent admittedly, when I know it is going to be World Book Day.
Parents of primary school-aged children will know exactly what I am talking about. They didn’t do it last year at school and that had lulled me into a sense of false security. Imagine my delight when I discovered that it would be happening this year and two costumes were expected. Not by the school, by the Childerbeasts. Childerbeast Number Two wants to go as a person possessed of magic– okay, not too bad, we have magical items in the dressing up box. Childerbeast Number Three will be enjoying ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ and can attend school in crocodile colours if they so wish. Also not too bad.
However, although they can just go in green or brown or yellow, my Childerbeast does not wish to keep it simple. No, they want to go dressed as an actual crocodile. And she’s not the only one in her class. I think the little buggers have got together and discussed what could possibly inflict the most pain and irritation on their parents. A crocodile costume you say? In forty eight hours? And to go on about it constantly? Yes, let’s all do that. We’ll get them to break their “no wine in the week” rule before Tuesday.
Yesterday with what I thought was only twenty-four hours to go, I found myself perusing a well-known department store looking for crocodile-themed items. It was not an not easy task. Partly because not only do people who stock department stores seem to think that little girls are obsessed with unicorns, they also seem to think that the only colour they like is pink. So, I made my way into the boys’ section where it would seem that people who stock the same store think little boys are only interested in blue, green and yellow. Equally annoying for boys, but handy for me on this occasion.
I availed myself of some crocodile-coloured clothes and a green scarf that I thought would do as a tail. As I was paying, another woman placed a blue hoodie at the till next to me and advised the sales assistant that although it was blue and from the section labelled ‘boys’ it was for her daughter who was not a fan of pink. I felt a warm glow of pride for this woman’s daughter. I placed my items on the counter and told my sales assistant that I was going to fashion a crocodile costume out of them for World Book Day and I hadn’t got the faintest idea where to begin. She offered her sympathies and failed to hide a note of distinct glee from her voice as her children weren’t having to do it this year. I refrained from advising her not to be too smug, but as we all know: The Gods of Parenting are always fair.
I returned home and the items purchased were greeted with what can best be described as a muted response. She wanted to go as a crocodile; this was merely green trousers and a yellow t-shirt. I said that I was going to make some scales and staple them on. That helped. A bit. Along with the discovery that I had another twenty -four hours than I thought I had.
I was expressing this sartorial concern to Brunette Friend on the way to school this morning. One of her Childerbeasts also wanted to go the full David Attenborough and she had been up late into the night making the costume. She is infinitely more skilled at these things than I am, which is rather like saying that Michaelangelo was better at painting than the Hound. She offered me her green and brown felt and a glue gun with which to assist my own descent into hell. She said she’d come and free me when I had overdone it with the glue gun because it did peel off with a layer of skin if you got it on yourself. I returned home to begin.
If I could just pause here – I know why people become teachers. I had previously thought it was something to do with caring for the next generation or wanting to help children reach their potential. Or if the Daily Mail is to be believed, the massive pay cheque and the long holidays. But it’s not is it? It’s because you all get let loose with glue guns, I know now. I’ve had a lovely couple of hours cutting and sticking. And when I ran out of crocodile scales, I just went around the house looking for things to stick. So far, I’ve glued the washing basket lid closed, the toilet seat down and the chocolate cupboard shut because I stupidly said I’d give up chocolate for Lent.
So I now have a sore back from sitting in a fixed position for too long and something resembling (and I wouldn’t put it any higher than that) an outfit that has a strong hint of reptile about it. In two hours I shall discover whether my work is of sufficient standard to please the Childerbeast. And if it is not, then I am out of options and I can’t even comfort myself with chocolate.