When your little one starts nursery, it’s only a matter of time before you receive an unexpected weekend guest (oh, and chicken pox). Gemma Fraser has been there…
My daughter was first in line at pick-up. I immediately knew something was afoot. She is normally a straggler, last out the door every day with her coat half on, clutching some random piece of “art” she has created, while missing essential pieces of clothing I could have sworn she was wearing that morning.
And then I spotted it: the class bear. My heart sank. She came running up to me, with the biggest smile on her face. “Mummy, mummy, I’m Star of the Week,” she squealed. “That means I get to take Talking Ted home.” “Yay”, I replied, fake smile plastered on my face, mustering every ounce of enthusiasm I could, while secretly muttering profanities under my breath, cursing this weekend of mummy homework.
She presented me with Talking Ted’s diary, which I had to fill in each day accompanied by photographic evidence, and I knew a shopping trip to Aldi and a marathon CBeebies binge was not going to cut it this weekend. My parenting skills were going to be laid bare for all the other mums and dads to see. So how do you survive a weekend with the class bear – aka The Test of Parenthood – and prove yourself as a fun, wholesome mum?
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PHOTOS
You will turn into a regular David Bailey. The framing has to be impeccable. Nothing to do with artistic reasons, though, but everything to do with creating the perfect façade. Any photos in the house need to ensure that big pile of laundry is out of shot, and the explosion of stickers, felt tip pens, stones, Shopkins and the other “precious” items your child has dumped in the middle of the living room floor are not in view.
Pick that one spot in your home that makes it look like you live in a serene, heavenly abode straight out the pages of an Enid Blyton novel. If you’re taking the obligatory – and clearly hilarious – photo of the bear eating dinner, ensure that for one night only you ditch the fishfingers and spaghetti hoops in favour of spinach and smoked salmon quinoa, accompanied by veg, veg and more veg.
And whatever you do, make sure whoever is in the photo is always smiling to prove what a big happy family you really are.
Don’t we all just love a photo of a stuffed toy doing something “crazy” like pretending to have a bath, or wearing a baseball cap (back to front of course) or recreating that famous spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp? Oh how the other parents will laugh when they look through the bear’s diary and discover what a comedy genius you are.
I don’t mean to boast, but I haven’t seen anything quite as funny as the photo I took of Talking Ted basking in the sunshine on our (immaculately spotless) window seat sporting my partner’s shades. Really, it was too much.
To prove you are a proper wholesome mum, you have to be outdoors. Who cares what the weather’s like, get your kid – and the bear too for added lols – kitted out in waterproofs and wellies and just bloody well get on with it. Cos spending an afternoon on the beach in torrential rain just proves how much of an earth mum you really are, right?
And don’t forget to go somewhere a little bit off the beaten track. Anyone can go to the zoo, but only a genuine wholesome mum takes a trip out into the country to visit a real working farm, accompanied by a healthy picnic with not a cocktail sausage in sight.
TAKE THE BEAR EVERYWHERE
Do not leave the house without it. It doesn’t matter if you’re just nipping to the shop for milk, make sure that bear is in tow. You never know what adventures you might happen upon during that five minute stroll to Sainsbury’s Local….
DO NOT LOSE THE BEAR
Pretty basic, but it does happen. I have read many a desperate Facebook post appealing for the safe return of the class bear (the buffoons). And when you are dragging the weary stuffed toy from pillar to post over the course of the weekend, it’s easy to see how you could inadvertently leave him behind on a park bench, or posing on horseback for a wacky snap. But just try not to do it, it’s not cool.
AND THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALL…..
Make sure you hand in your mummy homework on time.
Top tip: find somewhere to print your dozens of happy, action-packed family photographs before 7pm on a Sunday evening when most of the printing kiosks have closed for the night. Unfortunately for me, I did not do this. I had to go to the teacher on the Monday morning and apologise profusely for not returning with Talking Ted’s diary. I had to apologise to my distraught daughter who was looking forward to being the star attraction during “weekend news” time. And worst of all I had to apologise to myself for failing The Test of Parenthood.