The gospel according to Family Matters: And so it was decreed in the first week of November that lowly parents everywhere be sent out in search of tea towels, old coat hangers and the papier mache heads of assorted farmyard animals.
‘Thou shalt find these laying in the dressing up box’, declared the primary schools. ‘And if not, thou shalt simply visit Tesco, Asda or any other leading retail establishment worth its festive salt.’
Ah, the season of the nativity. Cue tears of emotion (the parents), tears of the overwrought (hopefully not the parents), and tears of the pre-school sibling,who you will have to bring with you, as it is practically the law that no matter how many nursery sessions they attend during the week, the school nativity will fall when they are due to be at home with you.
It is also the law that said younger sibling will weep, shout or defecate throughout the entire performance, no matter how many chocolate Santas you proffer from your bag of bribes.
It’s a funny old thing this dressing-up business, because whereas it was once confined to December, it now seems that most of the academic year is spent with parents procuring all manner of costumes.
So far this year, my daughters have been Elmer the Elephant, a Roman, a Victorian, an alien (who knew it was so tricky to attach a papier mache red-veined eyeball to a hair-band, I ask you?) and now, a star.
But if it adds to our children’s enthusiasm for learning, then who are we to complain?
After all, this is when the mums come into their own; if you don’t have a life-size donkey’s bottom to wrestle out of your wardrobe, one of your friends surely will.
My eldest daughter, India, started junior school this year, and had I known that last December was to be her final foray into the land of the nativity, then I would have made more of an effort.
I am unsure as to what this would have entailed – perhaps less dainty tissue-dabbing and more hysteria-tinged hawking into a hanky?
But I would certainly have milked the moment for all it was worth.
Luckily this year I have Amelie’s Year R production, and her turn as a star, to look forward to.
I fear that the days when my children enjoy sporting a costume are numbered, and so I intend to savour every sticky, sparkly, farmyard-bottomed endeavour.
Our new Family Matters columnist is Verity Lush, a 36-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth. She is a tutor in philosophy, English and maths and has written a book for newly-qualified teachers, plus textbooks and articles for teaching magazines and supplements. She’s on Twitter @lushnessblog