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World Book Day

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

Before becoming a parent, world book day just passed me by. Knew it was sometime in March but not as important as International Women’s day, which (in Italy) involved giving mimosa to every woman you worked with or were in a relationship with or wanted to be in a relationship with or other permutations and intersections of that zen diagram. Definitely not as important as St Patrick’s, which is God’s way of giving Irish people an extra day off Lent and a big weekend for the rugby. I knew it was there but didn’t realise the implications, the full double-sided sticky-taped horror of the thing.

Valentine’s Day has swooned happily by, pancake day is not what it was as inspired by the Jack Jonson song I am a regular and avid consumer of banana pancakes and then out of nowhere like a Troll from under a bridge springs International Book Day. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for my inbuilt streak of oneupmanship and eco-warrior priggery that lives under the self same bridge with the Troll. Add to the mix a small boy who really loves books and who has his own idiosyncratic interests , and you've got a hubbling bubbling cauldron of trouble.

This was what I was faced with this morning, not the Gruffalo nor the Stick Man nor indeed The Crayons who came home and/or went on strike , no none of these. The boy’s current favourite book is a child’s sea creature encyclopaedia and so at the beginning of the day I believed I was tasked with creating an Octopus costume. Doable, you say. I thought so too. Bang his head into a cereal box, cut out a hole for his face (having removed him first) cover with crepe paper, staple some odd socks round the bottom and get a couple of those stick-on googly eyes to put on the top, job’s a good un. And this was my plan until I double checked (always good to double check with my boy). No Daddy, not an Octopus, a hammer head shark!

I’ll readily admit that there is a part of me which admires the parents who buy a costume and then hunt around for a book to match, or the mother who dressed her child up in a grey suit and sent him in with 50 Shades tucked under his arm. Why can’t he a bit more like the child I say in the toy shop picking out a Ninja costume and then heading off to find a book to match. Instead I laboured long and hard, recycled cardboard boxes, layered tissue paper and performed a minor feat of civil engineering to create a hammerhead shark shaped hat, not a mere hat, a headpiece. A masterpiece of home hand made recycling. I was swollen with green repurposed pride as I trumpeted him through the doors of nursery.

That Friday with eager anticipation I clicked open the weekly school newsletter, hoards of children in all kinds of ‘bought’ costumes and not a single photo of my (sorry) his hammerhead. I could have spat and or cried but then I took a hold, gave myself a good talking to, my boy absolutely loved it, and that at the end of world book day is all that really matters.

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