Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

If I hate the Easter bonnet competition at school then to say I detest ‘book week’ would be of an unimaginable understatement. When our son was a little boy it was easy, he’d don his Harry Potter cloak, a pair of specs and with a flourish I’d draw a scar on his forehead with some lippy and he was good to go. The next child borrowed the cloak, tied her hair in ringlets, looked intelligent and was Hermione Grainger incarnate.
No such luck with the last two. For a start, not content to go to the annual PTA barn dance in jeans and some gingham next month, the 7 year old is hankering after an outfit she’s seen that eponymous, precocious, child star, Hannah Montana dress up in for a hoe-down in deepest, darkest Tennessee. No sooner having put my foot down to the above, both she and her little sister arrived home with notes in their book bags informing us, the poor parents, of the excitement of book week and that, oh joy, the book characters they need to embody are those from the Wizard of bloody Oz.
“I want to be Dorothy mummy”, hopped the 7 year old from one, eager foot to the other.
“You surprise me”, I said.
“Are you being sarcastic mummy? I really think you are”.
“Well darling, you have a dressing up box in the playroom filled with an assortment of various gowns that look as though any number of Disney princesses have just stepped out of them. You could also, at a push, be transformed into a nurse, but Dorothy Gale? That’s a tough one. You know I’m not renowned for my needlework and I’m sorry darling but I cannot justify buying a costume to be worn just for a few hours in school. Therefore I have no idea how to kit you out”.
This did not go down well and her enthusiastic hopping immediately became a stamping of feet, a banging up the stairs, followed by her bedroom door being slammed to the roars of, “You never give me anything”.
The newly bobbed-haired, Red-Head sighed.
“I want to be Toto mummy. I can wear my brown leggings and my fleece and then put glue on my face and collect the dog’s fluff and press it onto the glue and...”
“I don’t think that is such a good idea”, I advised, making a mental note to hide the PVA well away from her little grasp or she’d resemble some half baked werewolf before you could say ‘The Howling’.
I sat down with a cup of tea and mulled. And mulled.
Eventually an indignant 7 year old came down the stairs.
“I just want to be beautiful”, she said, sticking her chin out defiantly.
“You are beautiful”, I replied. “Very”. And I patted the sofa next to me. She flumped into the space.
“But mummy I don’t want to be a witch, or a Tin Man or a Lion or a Flying Monkey. I just want to be a girl”. Tears started anew. The cup of tea was by no means strong enough to fortify me against this level of histrionic angst.
Leaning my head back against the sofa with eyes closed, I thought of Hubby in work, hosting several VIPs, being earnest and adult and dynamic and essential. He was not I would put my last dime on it, fretting about the heinous costume ramifications of book week.
“Woof, woof, woof”. I opened one eye to find my five year old daughter and not the Golden Retriever, on all fours, circling a dining chair, panting and barking. It goes without saying that she had donned, not only the previously considered brown outfit but had also plastered her face in what looked like my Chanel foundation and to it had liberally applied handfuls of dog fur, some of which I am convinced had not been found on the carpet but which she had helped herself to from his coat.
“Oh Jesus”, said the 7 year old.
I didn’t know who to reprimand first, the elder for using the Lord’s name in vain or the Red-Head for, well being so, determined.
“Don’t talk like that. You should never use Jesus’ name in that tone”, I shouted, whilst simultaneously hoiking the Red-Head up by the sweater and carrying her, still in the all fours position to the kitchen sink.
“But mummy, I wasn’t being rude to God. I was praying to him because I knew you were going to go mental”.
At that moment Hubby walked in. He took one look at the blotchy, red-eyed 7 year old; the lupine features of his barking 5 year old and the thunderous expression of his wife and you could see him think, ‘If I just quietly turn around and walk out again maybe they won’t notice me’.
“Could you help me please?”, I asked. Caught like a rabbit in the headlights he meekly nodded his head. Gesticulating that he had to remove his uniform first I waited until he was down to his pants before he wrestled the Red-Head from me and held her head near the sink as I scrubbed.
“Good day then?”, he asked.
“Not particularly. You?”
The barking 5 year old had now, understandably started howling. I handed her a towel.
“Please dry her, Tom is coming for dinner, I haven’t so much as peeled a carrot”.
“Who is Tom?” asked the 7 year old.
“An old friend”, I said.
“Is he married?” I shook my head.
“Single?” I shook my head again.
“Well what then?”
“Can’t you think of any other alternatives?” I asked.
“Is he widowed?”
I laughed, “No, he’s not lonely”.
“Does he like the Wizard of Oz?” Hubby caught my eye.
“Yes, that’s it. He likes Judy Garland. Very much”.
“Oh he’s just gay then”, she said nonchalantly, exiting the kitchen, dragging her dishevelled sister in her wake.

1 comment:

DL said...

"...earnest and adult and ...essential". Having been there, I'd say it's arguably marginally less essential than your dressing-up box, and not dissimilar in many respects. Great fun and fond memories, nevertheless.

Couldn't agree more about the angst caused by some teacher's brainwave that the children should come attired in goodness-knows-what. A teacher who assumes that every child in the class is an only child, with parents with enough spare time on their hands to knock up costumes for any eventuality.