So the sun has come out for World Book Day down here in Cornwall and that couldn’t be more appropriate. Usually I am quite adverse to these dressing up days that are thrusted upon us busy parents, normally at the last minute, and see us spending valuable time the night before digging out all manner of props and costumes from the dressing up box which I never expected to be of any use post nursery school, the Nativity season excepted.
Worse, the kids don’t normally express much interest in the theme. The daughter has gone to school dressed as a princess for the majority of dress up and non-uniform days in the past. Comic Relief day? Yep, princess with a red nose. French day? Yep, princess again – or rather, princesse. You get the idea. As for the boy, his costume of choice had always been Batman and in the early years he wasn’t that bothered about dressing up at all.
So I didn’t hold up much hope for World Book Day. But as I half-heartedly dug out the Belle outfit from under the bed, my wife came in and said ‘forget that – she wants to be a mermaid.’ The mermaid from The Merrymaid of Zennor by Charles Causley and illustrated by Michael Foreman to be precise. And like an expert costume designer from some 19th century set BBC drama, she whisked out an emerald green sari and a long blonde hair wig from another old princess outfit.
Meanwhile the boy was deseparately looking for a grey T-shirt and the tie he had only ever won to a christening.
‘I want to be Harry Potter,’ he explained.
What was going on? Again, the wife was already on the case, printing out a Gryffindor badge for him to put on the T-shirt which she had also found. Then I remembered we had a wizard hat, but the boy wasn’t interested in that.
‘He doesn’t wear a hat, Daddy,’ he explained.
Fair point. He doesn’t. Google the images if you don’t believe me.
Miraculously before bed, both costumes were sorted. But the miracle didn’t end there.
All week I’d been struggling to get them out of bed and ready for school, but upon coming back from giving the dog an early walk this morning at about half seven, they were already up and about, getting helped into their outfits.
‘You look a fantastic mermaid,’ I said to my daughter.
‘I’m not a mermaid,’ she said, huffily. ‘I’m a Merrymaid.’
Again, fair point.
The boy was even keen on making refinements, insisting the Batman logo be removed from his cape.
‘Cut it off, cut it off,’ he kept saying.
Luckily, the wife rolled it up adequately enough to satisfy him, but wow – how quickly he was willing to push the Dark Knight aside.
They were ready to go before eight, plenty of time to give them breakfast and get ready myself. While I did, I heard the director of World Book Day, Kirsten Grant, being interviewed on the radio. She was explaining all the amazing things about the event, how it encourages kids to read and use their imaginations, etc etc.
Fair points all of them, but I beg to differ. The truly amazing thing about the whole event happened, in our house at least, around twenty past eight as I was looking for socks. Up the stairs stomped the boy and said seven little words I never thought I’d hear him say. Ever.
‘Can we go to school now, Daddy?’
And we did. No fuss, no tantrums. Just outside and into the car with my little wizard and mermaid – sorry, Merrymaid. We even passed an equally enthusiastic Fantastic Mr Fox and his equally stunned parents en route.
Bring on the next dressing up day, I say.