Tears, disguised tyranny and tedious speeches: it can only be World Book Day | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

I I was going to make green eggs and ham. This would be a cool costume, thought the competitive mother that sometimes lives in me. Luckily, I kept it quiet, as I always do, not wanting to spend hours after returning from a trip to the theater constructing said felt eggs and ham. My son is only two, but this year this will be his second World Book Day costume. Last year I was even stupider: he went to daycare under the name Peekaboo Moon. In other words, he wore a sweater with a moon on it.

The tedious online talk of World Book Day costumes rears its ugly head every year, but for a relatively new parent, it’s all a bit confusing. Make a costume or not, buy a costume or not… who cares, as long as the child is happy? Except what I’m learning is that the World Book Day costume is, for some people, the symbol of what kind of parent you are, and that the whole thing carries a certain amount of class baggage.

“Of course, stay-at-home moms with literature degrees have time to make an intricate Artful Dodger costume on the sewing machine!” mothers who are low-paid nurses working night shifts might complain. “Sure, working moms just put a nylon Frozen costume in their Asda basket,” stay-at-home moms might say. “It’s not even a book!” Time-poor moms don’t like being expected to add to their load with crafts; cash-poor mothers find the cost of equipment prohibitive. Time- and money-strapped moms — which seems to be most of us in this economy — wish all of this would go away. And this year, some schools have listened, believing that the cost of living crisis means parents are under unreasonable pressure when it comes to costumes. As for dads, no one asks them that question, because even though it’s 2024, the entire burden of dressing up still seems to fall on women’s shoulders. (Dads who designed and made their offspring’s World Book Day costumes, please contact us via the letter office.)

Growing up, World Book Day didn’t exist. My mother had little money but enough time to help make costumes for other occasions. She was also a skilled seamstress, which helped. I consider our beautifully stocked dress-up box a great childhood privilege, but my son is unlikely to be so lucky. One of the things that shocked me most about motherhood – even though everyone tries to prepare you, it only really hits you when you’re experiencing it – is how hard it is to juggle with childcare, even with a part-time job. Succeeding in doing anything beyond that feels like such a miraculous bonus that you end up patting yourself on the back for accomplishing even the most rudimentary practical tasks. Empty the washing machine within 24 hours of the end of a wash cycle, for example (the rinse button has been the subject of quite exhausting and environmentally unfriendly work over the past two years). So forgive me if I don’t have time to make Victorian knickers. Yet my mother also often worked part-time, and somehow she always did. So now I feel bad.

Anyway, my little boy loves Winnie the Pooh, as does Christopher Robin. We already have everything in the house, so all I have to do is blow up a red balloon and write a note that says, “Come out, bisy, backson, CR.” Unfortunately, while everyone was down, “is the Duchess” of Cambridge being held prisoner after being replaced by a clone? rabbit hole, I went down a “Christopher Robin”, which is how I ended up crying on the couch Sunday morning about how AA Milne had PTSD and the real Christopher Robin was a victim of Bullied at school for her starring role in her father’s film. creation. “I think you’re crying just thinking about a child being sent to boarding school,” my husband said (I’d also had one too many Manhattans the night before, although admittedly since I I have a son, I find the very idea of ​​boarding school unbearably sad). He pointed out that late in his life, Christopher Robin Milne came to terms with Winnie the Pooh and used Disney money to set up a charity for his severely disabled daughter, Clare, which helps people with disabilities . in the West Country to this day.

So consider my son’s costume a tribute, but also, as I drop him off at daycare, adorable and holding his teddy bear, a sign of World Book Days to come. Whatever he does, I will try, within reason, to make it easier, because all that matters is that he is happy. In other words, parents, it’s not about us. Although, as with many things, we seem pretty good at pulling it off.

What works

Frozen organic creamed spinach Picard. The child loves it and it goes in the microwave in just a few minutes. It’s not cheap, but it goes a long way and makes a very quick pasta sauce.

What is not

Whole grapes. On recent trips to the Young V&A and Tate Modern, I was disturbed to find that the fruit bowls sold to children contained whole grapes – a major choking hazard, as one pediatrician pointed out in this newspaper . I wondered if I was OTT, but after asking other parents, I felt encouraged to complain. Both museums took me seriously, with Tate Modern saying they should never have been released uncut and Young V&A withdrawing them from sale until they could rectify the situation.

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