World Book Day has just become a way for parents to show off.
Today is World Book Day and I take a sigh of relief that I no longer have to be subjected to the torture.
I love books, don’t get me wrong, in fact I write them but what I do hate is the expectation and showmanship that comes with a day that really seems to miss the point.
World Book Day’s objective is to help children read more, its objective is not to stress parents out to the point of breakdown and then make them feel ‘less-than’ because little Johnny from next door is dressed as the whole series of Harry Potter books and has a real wand. World Book Day has just become a way for parents to show off and make their time-poor counterparts feel inadequate at best and a massive failure at worst.
Dressing my children up is generally not at the top of my to-do list; making sure they have what they need, are kind to others and generally well-rounded individuals are much more important.
So on the dreaded day I just used to give my child her favourite book and ask her to go to school and talk about it, after all that is what it’s all about isn’t it? For a few years that sufficed; she didn’t know the difference and was quite happy with the arrangement. That was until the year that Sammy’s mum passed comment on my lack of effort!.
That week has seen three 12-hour-long days and the last thing I was thinking of was how I could also make a costume that was in my opinion highly unnecessary. But my daughter heard Sammy’s mum comment and it upset her. But it didn’t stop there; my attempts next year to dress her as a book spine with writing down her back was not appreciated by the Belles, Snow Whites and Harry Potters of this world, who took up upon themselves to make it clear that she must have a mum who didn’t care much about her.
The next year I relented and did my best, opted for The Cat in the Hat – I needed my husband’s help and overall the affect was sufficient. She spent all day fiddling with her giant hat and won a prize for the best made costume, probably because she had the only homemade costume on, the others opting for an array of expensive shop-bought options.
Isn’t parenting difficult enough without this added pressure?
A search on any social media site for #worldbookday will reveal smiling, happy children dressed in a vast array of outfits, some looking like they required a second mortgage. I can’t help thinking that posting these pictures is a way to make up for the parent’s own shortcomings – “I may not have made it in life but at least I can dress my child in the best outfit for World Book Day while the rest of the busy, stressed and over-worked parents are running around trying to see what they can cobble together!”
One year I took it upon myself to ask some of the children dressed is elaborate outfits to tell me about the story around their favourite character. Most recited the film and admitted to not even reading the book. And as for the parent who one year dressed her child as Christian Grey, really!
When did parenthood became a game, a competition, a place to show off? Was it when they created World Book Day, I wonder?
I wonder what World Book Day would look like if you could only come in things homemade from a book your child had actually read, I wonder if the children on social media in their Disney-bought dresses would be looking so smug then?
I am all for reading, I am all for celebrating books and I am all against anything that make some parents feel inferior to others and puts some children in a position where their spiteful friends have yet another reason to pick on them.
Parenting is a hard job, one we will lose more than we win, so today on World Book Day I raise a glass to the hard-working parents who remembered only last night that World Book Day was upon them and improvised. I salute you.
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