So, I didn’t know it was World Book Day today. Which is odd really, because of all the days I am likely to forget in the calendar of random, not-so-memorable days, the one about celebrating reading isn’t one I usually let slip by. I mean, I’m a book person. Next to sleeping and working, reading is what I do most in a day. Yet, this year, the day just dodged my notice; ironically, probably because I had my head in a book.
To give myself some credit, due to the weird, very early Easter this year, WBD is taking place significantly ahead of its usual scheduling period of early April. Add to that my recent step away from the time-eating entity of social media, where no doubt various authors and bookish organisations have been posting about it for weeks, and I actually have a fairly founded excuse for being oblivious.
You might be curious as to why I feel I even need an excuse. I might be into books, yes, but that doesn’t make it a crime to forget a relatively recent advent of a day celebrating them. It might affect some of my self-invented credibility in the subject of reading, but little else, except my pride. And that would all be true, and I could not bother with this account which only goes to tell everybody of my faux pas, thus escalating the explained results, save for one small detail.
My job. The job that means I don’t have to live in a box eating cold soup from a pull-ring can while pursuing a writing career. Obliviousness in any area can apparently reach into all areas of your life, like a ball of tangled wires. I like to think I have delicate, dexterous fingers, and I’m pretty skilled at unpicking intricately woven messes; just not when the big ball of metaphorical threads is my life.
Does that make sense? I am stating life is a big ball of tangled threads, and the moment you pull one thread another two jiggle themselves into knottyness.
That was not the point of this post. Hold on while I steer us, dear hypothetical audience, back to my point.
So, it turned out WBD is not just about me (and my ability or not to remember it). In actually, WBD is about getting people into reading and enjoying books. Adults as well as children, but a lot of the emphasis for the day itself is on children. Particularly in schools, where children are encouraged to dress up as their favourite book characters in an attempt to get them engaged in-
Hold on. I smell burning.
Yep, I was so into writing this I burned my ratatouille. Luckily, I have managed to save most of it, and have elected to cut my losses by re-branding it ‘barbecued ratatouille – the same stewed vegetables with a dash of char-grilled flavour!’ I am including this because I feel it emphasizes my earlier point about the tangled threads analogy. Remember? The burning dinner is also not my point.
Gosh. Sorry. For the, what, maybe three people who are still with me I shall continue.
Schools get children to dress up as book characters on WBD, which is a vital piece of information to store when you work with children of school going ages. Last year I was on it, and Batman and Spiderman (because comic books count) and Billionaire Boy, all made it to school costumed. This year… well, I suppose you don’t need me to spell out what happened this year around, but I will just in case.
Alice doesn’t remember WBD + Kids are supposed to dress up = Not kids dressed up.
I had no letters from the school to alert me of an upcoming costume event. Really, I keep all notices and forms pinned to a board, and all corresponding dates written both in my personal diary (they have their own section) and their calendar on the wall in their kitchen. WBD was nowhere to be found. Funnily enough, environmentalism plays a part in this too: apparently it was announced on the schools Facebook page. I’ve got another equation for you:
Alice deletes Facebook almost entirely from her living experience + school makes an announcement on Facebook page + Kids are supposed to dress up = Not kids dressed up.
I didn’t even know anyone was wearing costumes until I was walking the younglings to school alongside Wally, Harry Potter and the Gruffalo. By then of course, it was far too late for an epiphany regarding the matter.
Mostly, I have rattled on about this for so long, because I am delving for excuses. I included the burning my dinner issue, but having wandered off topic enough I spared you the part where I left to throw on pajamas and make peppermint tea, because I have been looking at this screen for a long time (you can blame a web-comic) and I’m starting to get eye-strain-headache-of-doom. But Dang-it all, I am GOING to finish this post TONIGHT.
Stalling is interesting, no?
In reality, I feel very much that the children’s turning up in regular school gear is my fault. I feel I should have known, in either the capacity as a reader or writer or nanny or some tangled amalgamation of them all, that it was WBD and that means dress-up day for two kids who are awesome, and really wanted to be involved in the fun, and were visibly disappointed when they saw that they weren’t.
Because I love these kids. Really a lot. They’re amazing little beings who laugh at stupid puns, and tell knock-knock jokes that don’t make sense*. They bring me books about singing cats making friends and lost anthropomorphic sticks, and like to read them to me. They listen to me read Beatrix Potter and like the voices I do for Squirrel Nutkin and Peter Rabbit. And they deserved to be involved in this, in my opinion, more than any other child in that school**.
And they trust me to know things and solve stuff, as most loved children do when they feel vulnerable and unsure. Today I didn’t know something integral to their lives, and I was unable to solve the issue when they started to feel left out.
There is no worse feeling in the world than letting down a kid on such a fundamental level. It sucks at a place inside you won’t know you have until you watch their little faces fall knowing you took the sparkle away, and you can’t do much about it save apologize and desperately try to make it up in some other way, when all you really want to do is make it alright right now. But you can’t and it’s your fault and you just sucky-suck-sucky-suck-suck***.
If you are not a parent, a child-carer, or in some way emotionally connected to a small person of diminutive age, this can be hard to understand. It’s an incredible feeling to be trusted by a child, because they trust so absolutely. It shouldn’t be abused or taken for granted, but inevitably sometimes it will be broken, because adults make mistakes, and they forget things, and they’re not the all powerful fountains of knowledge they act like they are.
Kids remember the first time adults were fallible. It’s an important part of learning the truths of adulthood. Still, the day you know you’ve proven yourself fallible to a kid you adore is not a good day.
Okay folks, I’m rounding on my point, but I feel the need to tell you that holding hot peppermint tea to your forehead helps with the eye-strain-headache-of-doom. You know, in case this post is giving you similar symptoms, single reader who is determined to finish this post almost as much as I am.
Today I discovered how incredibly emotionally developed children can actually be. On picking the children up from school, having left them as two uniformed spectacles in a strange parade of fictional characters, I was expecting to find two dejected, angry boys scolding me for my neglect. What I found were two excited boys, happily chatting away about their experiences.
Casually, I asked if the day had been alright, if they had been hounded or singled out by any particular classmate who might need to be reported to a teacher. Neither had, much to my overwhelming relief. The youngest then proceeded to tell me he had only been asked a few times why they hadn’t dressed up.
Kiddly-wink: I just said I forgot.
Me (supposed supreme adult of ultimate knowledge and memory): Really? I’m sorry, Kiddly-wink. You should have said ‘Alice was a silly sausage and didn’t know it was a dress-up day’.
Kiddly-Wink: I couldn’t’ve said you were a sausage, Alice, what if they ended up wanting to eat you, because you are a sausage. ****
Me: …. Yes, I don’t think I would have liked being cooked up and eaten by your class. But I am sorry you didn’t get to dress-up, and I promise to keep a better eye on these things next time.
Kiddly-Wink: It doesn’t matter, Alice. You didn’t mean to.
Sometimes I underestimate these kids. Even knowing how loving and exceptionally intelligent they are, sometimes I still don’t give them the credit they deserve. Even when, apparently, they give me the credit I don’t think I deserve. They’re another part of the big tangle, and they tug at areas of me, causing ripples through my life, just as my inadvertent error put a dint in theirs.
Hey, look at that. The point. We have arrived at something resembling a point. I don’t know if its what I intended when I started, but let’s just run with it.
Anyone still there?
Mostly, I screwed up today, and I blamed myself more than the kids did, for an error which ultimately caused them more problems than it did me.
Do you think I could have spared you this rambling mess of a blog post if I had just said that at the off?
Yeah. Probably. But we had fun right?
*For example: Knock knock.
Banana banana, I am a banana.
For some reason, I have been told this ‘joke’ at least twice a day since they discovered the joy of knock knock jokes a few weeks ago. They seem to find this hysterical beyond belief, which often makes me think that maybe it does make sense, and I’m the one who is failing to grasp the comedic genius of it.
** That is a somewhat biased opinion.
*** No child said this to me; I said this to me when I got back from dropping them off. It’s not that I don’t know the more grown up terms (including words which rhyme with Nantucket), but I have never been a fan of crudeness, and getting comfortable with this language in front of impressionable youngsters is not great if you want to keep being around impressionable youngsters for reasons of not wanting to starve in an ally somewhere.
**** There’s a weird horror story in there somewhere.