‘Make a lantern from recycled materials; from bits and pieces you’ve got lying around at home’, they said. ‘It can even be a simple, paper lantern. Dead easy’, they said. Guidelines which were clearly ignored by Mega-Mum. For her festive lantern wouldn’t look out of place hanging from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Cobbled together from tomato soup tins and toilet roll tubes, my arse!
If you’re a parent, you’ll be familiar with Mega-Mum and her polished, perfected parenting. Stand too close to Mega-Mum and you’ll feel like Orphan Annie before Daddy Warbucks gave her a bath and a nice dress.
Mega-Mum always work full-time and has done since her younglings were days old, a fact, she will repeatedly remind you of, usually during competition judging. Likewise, she can often be heard scoffing at any new mum who wimped-out during childbirth and succumbed to an epidural: ‘Labour? It’s a bit like tooth-ache, isn’t it?’ Mega-Mum peeled potatoes AND parsnips during delivery, whilst using her toes to sew personalised Christmas stockings for all the children of Great Ormond Street.
For this high-achieving alpha female, choosing not to send your new-born to nursery is an insult to Emmeline Pankhurst and the entire feminist sisterhood. Scratch that, not returning to work immediately is a disservice to women worldwide. As, after all, having babies whilst scaling the career ladder and simultaneously maintaining a perfect home/car/coat/hairstyle/marriage/sex-life, is easily achievable. To carry-off such activities with aplomb is not admirable. It’s bloody annoying.
To apply such perfection and discipline to the crafting of a child’s Christmas lantern is unfair. I do not believe the PTA poster mentioned the competition being for ‘Parents Only’; an opportunity to showcase unbeatable talents and outdo the other, less-organised and skilful parents.
Whether it’s Christmas lanterns, hats or cakes; Easter bonnets; or fancy-dress, the competition entrants are supposed to be of school age. Not the Mega-Mums with some perverse point to prove. And know this, Mega-Mum, you cannot compensate for your absenteeism with an elaborately decorated lantern. Oh no. We can all see through that.
My children crafted their unrecognisable ‘snow-men’ lanterns from two milk cartons and coloured-in card from a Shreddies box. Yep, we followed the simple guidelines; we understood the ‘recycled materials’ criteria.
They’re not going to win. Your ‘child’s’ bloody ruby-encrusted Harrods-worthy lantern is going to win. Again. And whilst you sit and admire another creation worthy of the Turner prize and enjoy your bumper supply of Chocolate Buttons, spare a thought for those poor, unfortunate souls who spent hours sticking unstickable cotton-wool to plastic bottles!
Unless, of course, you didn’t win this year, because, perhaps, your lantern was misplaced, or, possibly sabotaged with knitting-needles?