Yesterday was world book day, a chance for youngsters to celebrate the joy of reading by dressing up as on of their favourite book characters. For parents it is yet another thing to momentarily fret over. After receiving a week’s notice via your child requesting they dress up as someone rather special, you start scanning the far reaches of your memory to identify any current household item that could pass as an outfit fit for a classic book character. In my case it was Hermione Granger. This is fairly easy as she wears school uniform plus my daughter was quite happy to wear her own uniform but what had to be provided was the all important cape. “Have you not got an old skirt you could cut up?’, suggested my Mother in Law, I looked at her blankly as a) I tend to where everything I have in my wardrobe (I have a rule that if I haven’t worn it in 3 months it goes to the charity shop -assuming it is the relevant season, I don’t go ditching shorts in winter). Also, I can’t recall the last time I wore a skirt long enough to be worn as a cape by an 8 year old, I think it might have been 2002 and even then I recall feeling a tad frumpy.
Unperturbed by my response, my mother in law suggested searching for a skirt in a charity shop. I am a regular in charity shops and know how hard it is to find something specific, open-mindedness is key to browsing. Searching for a black ankle length skirt isn’t that easy. I was very thankful of her suggestions but my mother in law is a domestic goddess who can rustle up anything with a sewing machine. Lesser mortals who have yet to discover sewing machines, like me, prefer Amazon instead. But Amazon had postage turnarounds that weren’t quick enough for a slightly disorganised mother and the budget wasn’t looking good either. So I turned to a local party and fancy dress shop. One call to them and I had successfully reserved a cape in black, of the right size and within budget. It also had a rather groovy green lining. I excitedly rushed off the phone to tell my daughter. Her response was of horror, “green!”, she said, “I can’t wear green, that’s the colour of Slytherin”. As any Harry Potter fan will know, the house of Slytherin represents the baddies in the story, there was no way my daughter wanted to be seen as one of the baddies. So I picked up the phone again to cancel the order and surprise, surprise it was going to cost slightly more to deserve the pure black cape (groan).
The following day we went to pick it up, driving 15 minutes in the opposite direction of home on the ride back from school to stop off at the party shop. Turned out it was quite a good cape and represented value for money as it could be used at Halloween too.
So, with that task ticked off my list, I arrived at the bus stop on a world book day confident that I had done the best as I could to help my daughter in her quest to be Hermione (she had also added accessories from our trip to Universal Studios last month). As I stopped the car and got ready to get out, I glanced at the children at the bus stop and saw to my horror a perfect Hermione complete with Gryffindor tie and matching cloak. It helped that she had long hair (unlike my daughter’s choppy bob-cut) and it was crimped and styled to perfection. What made it worse was she was two years below my daughter, barely out of reception. I quietly hoped my daughter hadn’t spotted her but I could tell by seeing her face in the rear view mirror that she had. While I tried to boost my daughter’s confidence by talking about how good she looked, I couldn’t help but feel irritated and it was all I could do not to glower at the child and mother. My reaction was to question the authenticity of the child’s interest in Harry Potter. I said to my daughter, “There is no way she is old enough to watch the films let alone read the books”. I found my reaction hysterical. What next, was I then going to confront the mother and test the child’s Harry Potter knowledge? I felt like telling her to get back in the fairy and princess dresses and leave the witches and wizardry until she is at least in juniors. So that day Hermione brought out all the feelings that I hate feeling: jealousy, competitiveness and a sense that we never really make it out of the playground – those shenanigans just take place elsewhere with a lot more money involved.
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Thanks for reading.