Lucy's blog: Clown Day

I check my phone and see an email from school. The sort of email every working parent dreads. “Sorry for the short notice..” it begins, and things don’t get better from there. It is ‘Clown Day’ - ‘is’, as in today is clown day and we forgot to email you any kind of notice about it.

Being honest, I had heard about it some hours earlier in a conversation that went like this:

“No mummy, it’s not a uniform day today!”

“Not a uniform day? It’s Tuesday!”

“I know but I have to wear bright colours mummy, it’s Clown Day!!”

“Clown Day? What is Clown Day?!”

I met her halfway and let her pack her bright clothes in her backpack in case it really was ‘Clown Day’ and I’m the parent who missed the email. Which has never happens.  Okay, it possibly has happened once, or twice, this year.

Once my daughter is at breakfast club, the group email for the class starts firing with hilarious alternative versions of the above conversation, happening in bedrooms around our quiet corner of North London.

Sensibly, most of us have opted for the backpack compromise and it turns out Clown Day really is a thing. The school have hired circus performers to come in and teach circus skills to the kids. As a side note, I spent several minutes wondering whether clown is a pejorative in this context.

At 11.15, I get that email from the school. It barely apologises for not telling us about Clown Day and then invites us to a performance so the children can show off what they’ve learned. At 3.15pm.

Some parents will be there for pick up anyway and can rejig after-school plans to stay for this. Some parents, like my wonderful husband, can say “I’ll head home after lunch and set up to work from there for the afternoon”. And some parents, like me, look repeatedly between the email and the clock in the bottom right corner of the screen, cursing at how anybody can be expected to make something on 4 hours’ notice.

You’re never far from the thoughts about whether you’re a good parent when you’re also busy at work, and an email like this brings it into focus. I know I’ll have to miss this one.

To my colleagues I said “it sounds awful” and that wasn’t a total lie. I don’t particularly want to go to a circus show performed by thirty 4 and 5 year olds with one afternoon of training. I saw the videos. Some were sat on floor refusing to participate. Others had joined their parents in the audience. The remaining performers could balance a plate for maybe 2 seconds before crashing it into their neighbour, or falling on their bums.

What I do want is for my daughter to feel that she is important to me, and that I was a part of her childhood, circus shows and all. For us, video messaging helps enormously. When I asked her about the show, she said straightaway “Wait. Did Daddy send you the video?” like she knew that was an important part of our parenting style: Daddy shows up. Mummy watches videos. We’re both proud of you for trying hard and being brave enough to perform to a crowd.

Making every school event is great, but being ‘present’ is bigger than that. Being able to say “I did see the video! So tell me about the feather trick...” is enough.

 “Lucy is an associate at a corporate law firm in the City who lives almost-in the suburbs, with her joyful 6-year old, supportive fellow-City-worker husband and co-parent, and their enormous cat.”

Category: A Citymother's Diary

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