NSPCC Number Day is a maths-inspired fundraising initiative from the NSPCC for children from nursery age through to secondary school. Schools are encouraged to participate in fun curriculum-based activities, with downloadable resources for all ages and abilities available for free, and pupils are encouraged to ‘Dress Up For Digits’, and make a small donation for the privilege of wearing number-themed clothing for school.
Oh God, how I dread these school dressing up days. They tend to leap out at you from nowhere, or, at least, from the depths of your kids schoolbag, in the form of a sheet of yellow paper giving you two days notice to pull together a themed outfit worthy of an Oscar for costume design, or else …
… your child will be the only one without a costume … or without a prize … they’ll be humiliated by the other kids … they’ll be scarred for life and forever hold it against you … you’ll be sneered at by the Alpha Mummies … you’re a shit mother and it’s official.
It’s not always logistically or financially possible to just nip out and pick up a ready-made dressing up outfit in that time. Perhaps in future I should remember to purchase a yearly calendar of Awareness Days, and spend my nights in the hobby room running things up on the Singer just in case, instead of being self-indulgent and going to sleep so that I have the energy and patience to deal with everyone the next day. How very un-womanly of me!
Yes, school dressing up days are the Universe’s way of saying to me: ‘You’re shit, you know you are, and don’t you forget it.’
Anyway, how on earth DO you ‘dress up’ as a number?
I suppose you could have sent Freddie to school wearing a piece of clothing with a number on it, but he doesn’t have anything in his wardrobe with a number-themed logo. In any case, he was adamant that he wanted to dress up as a Numberblock.
Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! All I needed was a big cardboard box, some poster paints, and enough skill to cut the neck and armholes in the right places and paint the box without daubing the whole garage. But, as I had none of those things, and as Freddie would need to be able to fit through doorways, sit at his desk, and get himself changed for his school swimming lesson at the public pool, that was a none-starter.
I racked my brain for a whole day and ended up with nothing more than a racked brain. I could already picture his disappointed little face as he was forced to pull on his school uniform instead of dressing up on Friday morning. With only one day to go I resigned myself to accepting my fundamental mediocrity and just doing the best I could, hoping that the result wouldn’t be too awful. ‘Mummy tried her best’ might be slightly more consoling than ‘mummy couldn’t think of anything’; at least he’s have the choice of whether to wear it or not.
On Thursday I scoured the local shops for any inexpensive bits that might help me make something. I had a lightbulb moment when I spotted a half-price packet of basic Sharpies. The idea evolved a bit further when I found some black and white pipe cleaners. Having spent money on these items I was now committed to this idea whether it was a good one or not. I suspected not.
Once Freddie was in bed, I took a white t-shirt of mine and one of my hairbands, and sacrificed them on the altar of … well, on the dining table, actually. I cut the fabric off the hairband, stripping it back to the plastic, and asked Daddy if he could fashion a number ten out of pipe cleaners and attach it to the band so that it would look like it was floating above Freddie’s head, then I set about the t-shirt with the Sharpies, dividing the front into ten ‘blocks’ and drawing on an approximately appropriate face. Then we put them in his bedroom.
His squeal of delight when his sister went into his room and said ‘look what Mummy and Daddy have made for you’ was worthy of Christmas morning. As shit as I thought that t-shirt was, he loved it and couldn’t wait to put it on. He was especially taken with the number ten deelieboppers Daddy had made.
That outfit would never get me inducted into the Alpha Mummies Club, but I just didn’t care. Freddie was happy and that’s all that matters.