There are three words guaranteed to strike terror into any parent. They are World Book Day.
I am not against the concept of World Book Day, I would be a disgrace to my profession if I were, and I’m all for encouraging children to read in whatever way possible. But do we really have to dress them up as their favourite book character?
For me the problem is, at least, threefold. Firstly there is the challenge of getting your child to decide their favourite character and then sticking to it – more difficult than you might think.
Secondly, remembering in time so I’m not trying to cobble together a passable costume the night before. And thirdly there is the fight in me between the pedant and the desire for an easy life. Darth Vadar is not strictly a book character, but we do have dressing up costume. Imagine my delight when my younger son was given a Gruffalo costume for his birthday. There’s no doubting the Gruffalo’s literary credentials.
Despite saying every year that next year I’m going to plan well in advance it never quite happens. This year I left it too late to order anything online, which the prudent part of me is against anyway, but I was successful in persuading younger son that the Gruffalo was most definitely his favourite book character. Elder son takes after me and loves reading so getting him to decide this year was easy too, it had to be Harry Potter. First hurdle jumped! And quite an easy costume too, just need specs, school tie, a robe and any child can look like Harry Potter – easy if you have any of these things. I did not.
A trip to a fancy dress shop yielded glasses but trawling round the charity shops did not magic up the rest of a costume, not even a Mrs Weasley style knitted jumper which was my back up plan. I had no choice; I was going to have to make it myself. Thanks to the internet, my sewing machine and old sheet I was able to run up a passable robe. My son was happy with a chopstick as a wand, but my old school scarf (seeing as I was not in Gryffindor) was just not cutting it, he wanted a school tie. So I spent a jolly evening sewing yellow ribbon stripes on to one of my husband’s ties.
I do not want to sound smug, but I was quite pleased with the result - a lipstick scar on his forehead any my son was unmistakeably Harry Potter (unlike the Sir Charlie Stinky Socks fiasco last year). And, here’s for the prudent bit, the whole costume cost me £3.39.
Any slight feelings of smugness I may have had did not last long. One of my sons won best boy in class. Was it the one in the bought, no effort costume or the one in the hastily sewn together and slightly too tight sheet/robe costume? Yes, you guessed it.