Ebay is not always your saviour…


This week saw me being ridiculously busy. We’re moving, the children’s term comes to an end and there are school plays, sports days and goodbyes to be said. The amount of things to remember but also forget is increasing daily and I really can’t wait until the holidays begin. The boys need a rest and I am tired like I’ve not been for years. That tired to the bone, weary sort of tiredness that not even an ‘I love you Mummy’ or the longed for full night’s sleep can fix so having to make a bee costume (‘…er Mummy, I am a drone bee, not just a bee!’) was something I really didn’t want to be doing.

For someone who sews for a living I don’t really like making costumes for school happenings. I’m not great with clothes (I have made clothes but did sew the last dress I was making to the table cloth) I don’t really ‘get’ patterns and like to be free to do my own thing rather than sticking rigidly to a set of instructions. I don’t know if it’s because of the pressure to have the definite outcome –i.e. it has to look like what someone else has had in their head or that I lack confidence in publically showing my work to people I know. I’m not sure.

One of the mummies from school invited us ‘drone’ mummies to her house for coffee to chat and make the costumes together. It was a solidarity move in that we were all dreading making the costumes and getting it wrong, scarring our child for life in being the only one with the stripy t-shirt or padded cushion tummy. We all arrived with our bags from craft shops stuffed with various pieces of material, glue and elastic with a sense of ‘it’s alright, I’m not alone –we’ll all do it together!’ The black t-shirts were soon lined up on her kitchen floor with the cut yellow fluffy teddy bear fabric that had been glued on and was drying whilst we had a coffee and a biscuit. We threaded elastic and bent the wire coat hangers into the required wing shape and then used our old tights to cover them and make the semi opaque covering that only bee (drones!) have. We’d already ordered headbands with deely boppers on like pin pong balls that we decided to paint black and slowly the costumes began to take shape.

As we talked about many things we all started to say how much we’d enjoyed making the costumes and were glad we’d not just bought them. It would have been easier (and cheaper) to have gone online and ordered 7 costumes, clicked and paid rather than 6 ladies separately taking a morning to make them but where is the fun in that?

When Ollie came home I proudly showed him his costume and he gasped amazement but this was quickly followed by ‘am I the only one wearing this????’ said in a slightly panicked voice. It seems his days of merrily dressing up in random costumes are over and no more will he want to wear a cobweb costume for the nativity (in a nativity??) as we are now striding into a place where only Obi Wan Kenobi costumes will do to be cool. As soon as I said ‘All the drones are wearing costumes like these, us drone mummies got together this morning to make them all’ he relaxed as he realised, as I did, that being the same as everyone else when you have to wear a large black t-shirt that looks like a dress with stripes of bright yellow fluffy (and moulting) teddy bear fabric stuck to it, coat hangers with your mums old tights pulled over them and deely boppers (aren’t they for girls mummy????) in a head band would lose you street cred but if your mates are dressed the same then it may just be okay.

I am now looking forward to the play. He’ll sing his heart out having miraculously learned all the words despite never looking at them. He’ll love being part of something big and having some words to say and he’ll get that buzz when the lights dim and he’s standing with his mates listening to the thunderous applause that only overenthusiastic, proud parents at school plays can give. Hearts will be bursting with pride and I will recount how my son was the best goddam drone bee there ever was…

These are the making of memories and embarrassing videos to play at future 18th birthday parties along with the face covered in chocolate baby photos and the little babygrows lovingly stored away in a memory box. I’m so glad I made this costume, it was a fun morning but I’m also really looking forward to seeing just how 7 children cope on a stage wearing ping pong balls on their heads and coat hangers for wings. The temptation to nut the child standing next to you (just for fun you understand) will prove too much for someone I’m sure and the giggles from the parents and stern glances from the teachers will add a further dimension to the bee costume. The next time you have to make the most random costume for your child’s play don’t reach for the supposed saviour –ebay, take a deep breath, get together with other mummies and get the glue, sticky back plastic and have a go yourself. You never know, you might just sit in the audience and not only have the most enormous sense of pride in your child’s RSC standard performance but a little part of you will have some satisfaction in their costume and you’ll, perhaps, want to say ‘I made that!!!’

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About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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