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The Redster
Seven and a half

We have had at least three weeks to get ready for this. At the Redster’s school this week it’s been Book Week, culminating in today’s dressing-up extravaganza (this year’s theme: Kings and Queens). And just to give the rest of us a small foretaste of what’s at stake, a reminder of how easily – just one lapse in concentration, just one moment of your eyes off the road – the metaphorical car of parenthood can crash into life’s central reservation, overturn, and cause a pile-up with multiple fatalities, one child in Reception came dressed up to the nines on Friday the week before. It was awful. The tears, the frantic phonecalls, the helplessness of the bystanders…

So, we had no excuse not to be ready.

On the other hand, I was not about to repeat my performance of the Redster’s Reception Book Week two years ago (theme: Space), when I poured every spare moment for weeks into creating a giant yellow papier-mache sun outfit complete with yellow spiky headband. It was gratifying to be the only parent whose child was not dressed as an alien, but she couldn’t even sit down in it, and it was so huge we were unable to store it in the attic after its total of six hours in use.

Therefore, I briefly suggested to the Redster that she wear a white party dress, the crown that we already had, and I’d make her a red cape with a white fur trim to look regal in. I thought she agreed to this (when will I learn? If I interrupt her reading, she’s not agreeing, she’s just nodding so that I go away and let her continue with the adventures of HIccup Horrendous Haddock the Third and his dragon.) Yesterday I duly bought some red cloth, some white fur, and spent half of ballet sewing them together wonkily, feeling very pleased myself and causing the other ballet mums to consider me a domestic goddess – if only they knew – but realised as her lesson finished at 6pm that she hadn’t got any shoes she can wear with a dress. So it was in Asda, at round about the girls’ bedtime, looking at an unpromising rack of shoes, that the Redster suddenly announced that she wanted to be Queen Victoria and be dressed from head to toe in black

I know I could have said, ‘Tough, you should said that weeks ago,’ but a spirit of competiveness took over – one of her best friends had decided to be Elizabeth I and was even colouring her hair red specially. A specific queen looks a lot better than a generic one, and the fact that she had thought of it herself made me feel absurdly proud of her. So about £30 later she was kitted out with a black skirt, top, tights, hair thing, and a string of pearls, and practised ‘We are not amused’ in various tones of voice all the way home.

I thought she looked very Victorian this morning, though there was only a tiny tiara and a silk scarf headcovering to distinguish her from a waitress, and the tiny tiara was ripped off and stamped on by some wretched boy at first play anyway. She didn’t mind – she’d discovered that the string of pearls was just the right length to play cat’s cradle with.

If I can persuade babyfather, a picture will follow…


The Redster: Seven and a half
The Cutester: Four and a third

Knit one...

School holidays are for bringing grandmothers who teach you how to knit (and count the stitches)

The Redster was being nursed in the sitting room by her little sister today after complaining of a sore stomach. Her mother could perhaps have been more sympathetic but was mostly focussed on getting lunch on the table.

After a while a small person wearing a plastic stethoscope delivered this note to the kitchen:

‘Dear nurse’ [I forgot to say that I was appointed head nurse in my absence – clearly some kind of managerial, administrative role with little personal contact with patients]
‘It is a bit to quiet here. Please can I have some intotanment for example clouwns, tipe rope walkers, jugles, singers, dancers and poino ists. When it is lunchtime I am going to be carred in a weelchair. Please tell me when it is lunchtime!
from the Pashant.’

She turned out to have a remarkably good appetite given the circumstances, and after lunch she didn’t react well to being refused some of the ludicrous amounts of Easter chocolate that are swilling round our house.

I hope her health holds out. With those expectations, treatment by the NHS could be a huge anti-climax.