Angstylosaurus

I somehow missed the memo about dressing up for World Book Day.  There was one.  Many, in fact.  Yet somehow I found myself at 3.15 yesterday with less than a day to create an amazing and imaginative costume for Ziggler to wear at nursery.  And it was Choir Night, an’ all.

No, it did not have to be amazing or very imaginative.  Yes, I did suggest a number of convenient possibilities.  The mermaid from… oh, you know, numerous stories about mermaids?  As you know, we have an award winning costume in our dressing up box on that theme.  No, Ziggler didn’t fancy that this time.  Dogger, out of erm, ‘Dogger’?  That didn’t meet with approval either.  Fox in socks – a character who’s been causing much hilarity in our house of late?  Nope.  Ziggler had a very clear idea of what she wanted to be. Her current favourite book is Dinosaurs Galore and her favourite dinosaur therein is the Ankylosaurus.  His rhyme: ‘I have armour on the top of me and armour underneath / and if you try to eat me up you’ll probably break your teeth!’  She can recite it.   Armour means spikes.  A costume in less than 24h is not too hard.  But a costume with spikes?

Now, usually I would’ve just persuaded her down the mermaid route.  But an Ankylosaurus is such a cool and funny and specific thing to want to be, especially for a girl who doesn’t usually spare the princesses.  And she was really excited about being the spikiest kid at nursery and reciting her rhyme, so I caved.  And, actually, in the end it wasn’t that hard (mainly because actually in the end it wasn’t that good).  I had stuck on my last spike before bed time.  It was a bit unwieldy being made of a cardboard box – and having spikes on it – but she could wear normal clothes underneath.

When we got to nursery she was still excited about how spiky she was.  On the walk from the car (it was raining and I wanted to preserve the integrity of the spikes), she was saying her rhyme and skipping.  As we walked in the door and encountered a couple of puzzled looks and a billion mermaids/princesses/other girly characters I saw her mind change and her shoulders and spirits droop.  She wanted to take her mask off.  She would wear it later.  She should have (she said silently) come as a mermaid.  She made me help her take her spiky costume off and hang it on a chair.  She would, she promised, wear it later.

I have to say that bit of my heart broke.  I don’t care about the costume and the loving bloody hours and hours I spent sellotaping spikes on a cardboard tabard – I really don’t – but the shrivelling of her joy was truly terrible.

In the car, I cried.  I felt that she had learned that you shouldn’t try too hard, and you shouldn’t be too different from everyone else, and you shouldn’t really have your own ideas and if you do it’s weird to carry them out.  Plus I admit I was worried that everyone think I made her come as an Ankylosaurus and that I’m a pushy wanna-be alpha mum.  So I rang my sister Sausage.

I have forgotten the words of her pep-talk but the gist was something like this:

“Snap out of it lady.  Yes, she was brilliant and funny to think of such an interesting costume.  Yes, it’s sad that she felt she shouldn’t have. But a) you are projecting all sorts of feelings onto her that she may not have and b) it’s your job to turn this round and make it a great thing again.  Go and get her a prize for the most original idea for a costume and give it to her after nursery.  And stop making this all about you.”

She was right.  I did what she suggested.  Ziggler was fine when I picked her up (although I’m not sure she did show her friends the costume as she tactfully told me she had).  The teachers were fake-impressed with my inventiveness.  They already thought I was a bit nuts if they considered me at all, so my reputation remains unaltered.  Ziggler was very pleased with her ‘prize’ (consisting of a toy which contrives to be a dinosaur, whistle, squeaker and bubbles in one and is actually quite amazing for the money).

Parenthood seems to have opened up a whole new chapter of it not being cool to try to hard.  And so I have made myself two promises.  I am going to do my absolute best at things, even if it makes me look like a wannabe alpha mum/weirdo.  I’m not going to do things by halves, or pretend to be less enthusiastic than I am, or even worry about whether or not I’m doing loud parenting.  I don’t want to teach my kids it’s stupid to do things differently, or the way you want to.  I want them to take pride in their genius (tee hee) and think ‘fuck it – who cares’ about looking silly (although I don’t want them to actually say ‘fuck it’ of course).  We live in the biggest city in the country,  not a little village in the middle of nowhere.  There’s no shame or embarrassment about being what you want to be.

The other promise?  Remember, Vickola.  It’s not All About You.

2013-03-07 12.42.03

 

About vickola

Oops! I seem to be a stay at home mum. I'm writing about it to try and slow down the brain freeze.
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7 Responses to Angstylosaurus

  1. elodiemelody says:

    Great promisses my dear. All of them. I grew up differently, I was once dressed up as an ant (weirdo). Lots of kids thought I was weird and uncool for many many years. But look at me now, I’m still weird but I found a bunch of even greater weirdos to hang out with and we have brilliant fun together.
    I am right with you teaching these girls it’s cool to be different and have your own ideas. And I’m also totally supporting your not giving in to the fake coolness of not seeming to care. Go with your guts and be enthusiastic about things, life will only be brighter for you.

    PS: people judge each other no matter what. So you might as well get judge for being yourself and having a great time than for just trying to be where people expect you too.

    Love you.

  2. Shepherdess says:

    As I was reading the post, I was wondering how you made one because it’s so complicated – and then saw the picture. Next time we meet, there will be a prize for the best fancy dress I’ve seen this World Book Day! (Whilst also badgering you for details of Z’s amazing many-prizes-in-one)

    And as for the rest .. well, as always, couldn’t agree more. I hope for all our daughters’ sakes they realise that being themselves ain’t so bad. And I know it’s projecting my wishes on to her, but I really hope that she doesn’t fall entirely for this crazy princessdom all around. I’m sure we weren’t like this – are girls these days somehow being obliged to be more girly?

    • vickola says:

      Hurray! A prize!

      And yes, I think they are. It’s not even girliness I object to particularly but that particularly vacuous princess staring beautifully but not DOING anything I really want her to avoid. Think the Ankylosaurus does that nicely, with its spikes.

  3. Ria says:

    Reading this reminds me of when I was about eight. I had the most hideous gold skirt that I LOVED. It was my first day of brownies. My mum advised me not to wear it. I insisted. I looked like a twat. But I was a proud twat. Similar incident with a lurid pink flammable seventies style blouse that I insisted on wearing out to play. My mum had taught me to be myself, even if that self was an odd child with no fashion sense. Keep it up, you’re doing a great job :-) in time they’ll appreciate you letting them express themselves, even if it feels challenging sometimes!

  4. vickola says:

    Thanks Ria. We would love to see your gold skirt/flamingo pink blouse combo sometime if you’ve still got it!

  5. A teacher at school once asked me, in front of the class, “why do you have to be so different, Dan.” It hurt a lot, but I couldn’t be other than I was. (Inevitably, later, it turned out he was gay and hiding it.)

    So years later, my answer is; be different. Show the world new, exciting ways of living. Do what you want, irrespective of the cowards. Having the confidence or madness to be weird kinda ends up cool. And your kids have all the madness it takes to be cool.

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