My twitter timeline is currently full of mums worrying about what their kids are going to wear for World Book Day, or making fancy dress outfits for various events, or trying to find elusive character costumes to avoid a full-scale meltdown.
I do sympathise. Been there, done that, stayed up in to the small hours sewing fun fur polar bear costumes (so No 1 Son could be Iorek Byrnison from the Northern Lights).
Yes, dear reader, I too have been a victim of Competitive Fancy Dress Syndrome. When my son was given the part of an ox in his reception class play, I sourced the fun fur to make him his costume… complete with felt horns stuffed with kapok. For one World Book Day, when he wanted to go as Legolas from Lord of the Rings, I made him a tunic, found him some actual elf ears exactly the same as they use in the films from a specialists… and, my finest hour, and fashioned him a blonde wig with plaits out of a hair piece from Claire’s Accessories.
These are the warning signs of Competitive Fancy Dress Syndrome so you can know the risks:
1. Spending more than a week’s grocery budget on fun fur and felt, and staying up late for more than one evening in a row, stitching like the Tailor of Gloucester.
2. Planning the costume for weeks in advance, researching it, trying not to scream when your child announces they’ve decided not to go as Willy Wonka to the World Book Parade and would like to go as Where’s Wally instead.
3. Feeling a sense of overwhelming pride and satisfaction when your child’s costume turns out to be SO much better than most of the rest – except, of course, for that annoying SAHM who has somehow managed to transform her child into the Cat in the Hat, complete with hand-stitched hat and homemade tail.
And Competitive Fancy Dress Syndrome can spill over in to real life, too. I knew of someone (really, not me) who spent THREE WEEKS making a Madonna costume for the office Christmas party, complete with pointy bra made from kitchen cones and sprayed purple.
Why did I put so much effort in to my son’s World Book Day costumes, school play costumes etc? Well, partly because I wanted to, of course. I do think homemade fancy dress costumes look better than shop-bought ones. (It’s also probably genetic – when I was a kid my dad once dressed me up as a cracker for a Christmas party in, I’m not kidding, a full-sized cardboard cracker which we decorated with tissue paper. He had to roll me into the assembly hall.) But also because I think as a working mum I was always trying to compensate a little by trying to go the extra mile for my boy at any possible opportunity – and to show all the Stay at Home Mums that I could do anything they could do when it came to glue-ing and sewing.
Did he appreciate it? Who knows? Maybe one day he’ll look back at this photo and remember the time his mum stayed up late into the small hours for three nights in a row, making him a costume so he could dress up as an elf for a parade that lasted… ooh, 10 minutes? He probably won’t.
Still, it was fun. Enjoy World Book Day 🙂