You know how I said here and here that sometimes I regret starting things with my first, knowing I'll have to repeat them twice more with the other kids? Like the one-of-a-kind birthday cakes that represent what they're 'into' at the time... or the full-sized quilts for their beds (still got one to go there)... taping the entire Kindy Christmas concert for posterity...
I am just the kind of person who likes to be even-handed with my kids. I know there are times when they have to accept that life isn't fair, but I need them to know that I love them all the same. I like to think of the special things I do for them as evidence of my love. I admit, I get sentimental and a little bit hung-up on 'stuff'. I think losing a parent early makes you want to leave something behind for your kids. As I tuck them under the blankets that I've made, I tell them that each is a hug that mummy leaves with them when she can't be there. The cakes are to prove that I love them enough to sacrifice time for them in the kitchen (everyone knows how I hate to cook). Even though those things take time (eons of time, three times over) I take great pleasure in knowing that one day they'll look back and think 'my mum did that for me'.
My mum always made stuff for us. My dad was often busy with his own projects, but I remember he once entered me into a Agricultural Showgirl Contest. I felt so happy that he thought I was pretty enough and dignified enough to enter. It was one of the moments of my teenage years where I felt I had pleased my dad just by being me - and that I had earned his acceptance and his praise.
I hasten to add that despite this euphoria I also felt embarrassed and worried that everyone at school would find out... I was downright mortified when a boy in the year ahead of me asked me for some lined paper, "C'mon, it's the least you can do, Miss Mt Barker. Aren't you supposed to help the community?" haha. Sooo not funny at the time.
So the thing I struggled with the most is the whole Baby Show fiasco. I wanted to show my kids I thought they were special and unique and amazing too - but somehow it didn't feel right. Don't get me wrong, these aren't those OTT pageants you see on telly - just kids dressed up in their Sunday best, no make up or performing involved. Just a chat with the nice lady and off you go.
The first show I went to, I was just so excited to show off my gorgeous little guy - he was all chubby cheeked, blue-eyed smiles at the time (he's since grown into a gangly, green-eyed, lightsabre wielding jedi). And guess what. He won! My Z is one of those kids who will win you over with his enthusiasm and he came home with the BIG TROPHY. So exciting!
So the next time I went to one, I dressed my piggy-tailed, blue-eyed princess in my favourite little dress (black and white pinafore, I hadn't given into the monster that was pink at that stage) and took my chubby little two year old along to watch. At the door, the lady was charmed by my little man and convinced me to enter him as well - it WAS for charity after all. Despite the fact he was dressed fairly casually, I caved and handed over my ten bucks. Big mistake. Of course my wide-eyed, enthusiastic little boy came home again with the BIG TROPHY and my little princess came home empty handed. I was devastated but consoled myself with the fact that she couldn't possibly be old enough to understand that she hadn't been picked as the prettiest/best dressed/nicest eyes/blah blah blah...
However... kids are kids. Sigh. Mr Z *loved* playing with his trophies and soon enough Miss Piggy started to get upset that she didn't have one. So last year, we made a last-ditch effort to win her a trophy. I dressed her in a gorgeous red dress with a white crocheted cardi, combed her lovely wavy hair and put a skinny side-braid across the top of her head. She looked like a fairy princess - very far removed from the girl who usually gets told she looks like she's been pulled through a bush backwards at the end of each day!
And guess what? She got shy. She couldn't speak to the judges, she just stared at all the other pretty girls around her and looked scared. I felt sick. How could I do this to her at such a young age? Make her feel so inferior and worried and wonder if she was cute enough. It was absolutely awful. We went shopping and I bought her ice-cream to make up for the ordeal I had put her through. I told her that she was gorgeous and that she was the nicest girl I knew. I prayed that I hadn't hurt her fragile little ego.
And when we went back to hear the verdict they announced the boys first. This time her blue-eyed, blonde haired LITTLE brother had won the grand champion trophy. Along with three smaller ones.
I felt even sicker. Should I leave? Should I stay? I didn't know WHAT to do.
The girl's trophies were lined up to be announced. She squeezed my hand tight and I could feel her straining to hear her name. It broke my heart.
But... a miracle happened! Nicest eyes... my Miss Piggy! They loved her beautiful round eyes that had changed from a bright blue to a deep green the Summer before. She was so proud as she marched up to the stage to collect her trophy. I've never seen her hold ANYTHING so tight. I prayed a quick thanks before rushing to congratulate her.
And then I vowed never to go to a baby show again.
Don't get me wrong, they are a FANTASTIC fundraiser for all sorts of charities. They are a nice morning out with other mums (usually great cakes too). They are just not for me!
How do you feel about baby shows?