Updated: Sep 19, 2021
Story about dressing up and embracing imperfect human nature.
Book week 2021
Book week 2021 here we come!
As a mum and book lover myself, it makes my heart sing with joy to see I have two bookworms at home. I can give myself pat on the back; the endless hours reading books and whole days spent at the local libraries when my children were little have ignited passion for books in their hearts. They are so obsessed with reading that even take books with them to the toilet (oh crap💩)🙈
There’s this tradition in Australia called “book week”. From The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) website: ”Each year since 1945 the CBCA has brought children and books together across Australia through CBCA Book Week. During this time schools and public libraries spend one glorious week celebrating books and Australian children's authors and illustrators. Classroom teachers, teacher librarians and public librarians create colourful displays, develop activities, run competitions and tell stories relating to a theme to highlight the importance of reading. You will often see parades with students dressed as their favourite book character.” This year ”book week” celebrates its 75th anniversary.
One day during the “book week” children are asked to dress up as their favourite book character. For me it’s always a bit of a stressful day. Why? Because I’m not that much into dressing up. We didn’t have that tradition back in Poland when I went to school and generally I cannot remember dressing up much at all. The memories that flash up are back from kindergarten when I once a year used to dress up as a princess for a ball during the New Year‘s carnival. And perhaps for performances. But generally I don’t remember people dressing up that much. However, it is quite different in Australia. I feel like one of Australia’s traditions is to dress up whenever there’s an opportunity for it. Or even without a special occasion. No one is especially surprised to see a man dressed up as Elsa from Frozen zooming in the morning on an electric scooter (true story, we saw one while driving to the farmers’ markets last Saturday:) It just occurred to me that it may be an offset for the need to wear uniforms. It’s not only kids at school that wear uniforms, but a lot of jobs come with a set of outfits you’re expected to wear as part of your employment... Anyway, going back to ”book week”. Our school is a very artistic and creative, and people put a lot of effort into their outfit and come dressed up not only on the days that call for a dress up, but can use any ”free dress day” as an excuse to put on fancy clothes. As previously mentioned, as someone who is not big on dressing up, I’ve noticed myself feeling unsettled whenever there’s been a need for a costume. I’ve come to realize that the tension I may experience comes from within, from an unconscious association of well dressed-up kid as the well looked-after kid. It’s like when Glennon Doyle in her book “Untamed” wrote that when she saw a well braided hair she thought the girls was well cared for... As I was reading it I found myself becoming aware I was subscribing to that notion as well... An interesting and deeply seeded unconscious conditioning, don’t your think? How judgmental and limiting though? Who programmed us that way?! It shows how much and into what detail our conditioning goes.
But I’ve digressed again... So back to “book week”. Even though I know it’s coming, I’m always surprised by it. Or maybe because I’d rather do something else then think of or crate a costume, I put it off to suddenly realise the dress up is next day!! So sometimes I choose the path of least resistance and “sell“ to my kids solutions that are readily available. Like for example, two years ago I had no idea what to do with Zosia, who‘s also so creative that would want me to create something extraordinary that I’d have no time, skills or to be brutally honest, desire, to do. As a mum, I already do things that I may not necessarily be 100% of the time keen to do, but knowing how important it is for my children, I do them. But there’s somewhere I need to draw the line...
I used to want to be a perfect mum, but have been learning to be happy with being the “good enough” one. As a recovering perfectionist, learning that as humans by definition we are imperfect and having the courage to embrace this notion has made my life more joyous... but that’s a whole other story;)
Going back to 2 years ago. I suggested Elsa’s costume for Zosia. Not because it was her favorite book character, but because she already had Elsa’s dress and Frozen book. When I posted a photo of my children dressed up, on of my cousins smirking comment “princess, of course“ touched my nerve. My intention wasn’t to condition my daughter into being a princess, far from it. But I may just have... I noticed a feeling of guilt and even shame creeping in... I had stop, embrace and forgive myself. I’m not perfect and things don’t always work out the way I’d like them to. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. My daughter had a costume for the ”book week”. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves of the hood. Better job done, than not. Good enough mum had to do that day. Plus I had to let go the need to explain myself to my cousin... Releasing a need to be understood and ultimately approved of is another aspect worth diving into, but another time.
Book week 2019
The following year Zosia was excited to wear Iggy’s costume from the previous year, yay. I was glad to see it being recycled, as we actually made the Petey costume. My husband dyed white top and leggings orange, and I drew the stripes.
Book week 2020
This year Zosia dressed up as a shark, because she’s obsessed with sharks, has a shark costume (which used to be Iggy’s:) that she wears whenever she gets a chance, and Iggy gave her his book about sharks. If you haven’t worked it out already, there‘s a hook in dressing up for “book week”. Because it’s about your favourite book character, you need a book to go with your costume😉 Iggy is not as exited about dressing up as Zosia, so he chose an “everyday“ character. He decided to be Jingwen from “Pie in the Sky”, book by Brisbane author Remy Lai. Iggy scored this book signed by the author at a local book store the other week. Books@Stones is next door to Corporate Box East Brisbane, where Iggy trains boxing and I’m often lured into the book store by my book lovers after the training. I try to be a conscious consumer and careful with unnecessary purchases, but figure there are worse ways of spending money than on books while also supporting local business... so it’s not uncommon that we leave the store with new treasures.
My children obvouisly don’t know about the challenges the ”book week” dress-up presents me with. As much as I can, I try not to project my issues onto others. Also knowing it can be a great fun, especially for Zosia, I‘m careful not to spoil it for her and therefore try to approach it lightly. I also noticed that with every year it becomes easier, perhaps a matter of experience, but also a case of kids being older and more capable. In fact, it was super easy this year and once again we had a successful “book week” dress-up day📚