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Posts from by Lach Ryan

Blackframes is the writing of Lach Ryan


An Open Letter to Book Week

Lach Ryan

Dear Book Week,

This is to let you know that you and I, as Taylor would say, have now got bad blood.

As celebration weeks go, you are not the worst of them. You are much sexier than the likes of Global Soil Week, World Breastfeeding Week or National Skills Week. Imagine dress-up or parade-based celebrations of those themes!

But, I've noticed my social media feed this week is filled with trophy shots from my peers trying to reconcile some small victory from the farce that your festival creates.

I have seen tiny people take the form of Hungry Caterpillars, grumpy Gruffalos (and what appeared to be a tiny Mark Ruffalo  - not sure if he's released an autobiography or if it would be suitable for kids), some Spots, a hoard of Harry Potters and even a junior Jesus  (I think that kid was home schooled).

This week I have learnt who you truly are. Not a celebration of children and literature, but a cruel challenge placed upon already time-poor, working parents.

As I sit here writing, I have a tension in my stomach that feels like three cats practicing MMA in a pillow slip. It's because I know tomorrow I need to deal with another bout of dress-ups that you ordained.

Let me tell you what life looks like for us this week - three seperate outfits for the daycare kid and one epic book parade costume for the school-aged kid that would make a Mardi Gras participant question a certain mother's over enthusiasm. 

Monday morning was grappling with a Spidergirl (is that even a thing outside of fanboy dreams?) costume, a three-year old and the stress of running late for work without caffeine in my system.

Tuesday was supposed to be a simple. A Miffy the Rabbit getup consisting of a rabbit ears headband and fluffy bunny tail sewn onto a dress and paired with Miffy brand pyjama pants. It all became an issue when I was required to get out the make-up kit for the face painting. Except for that brief stint as a goth at uni (read a Thursday night trip to the supermarket wearing Revlon Colour Stay) I had never used the stuff. I am not sure if the whiskers I drew looked like a bunny or a Cirque Du Soleil version of a zebra.

On Wednesday Wifey was doing the school run for the much-anticipated Book Week parade. The school-aged one had decided to go dressed as an obscure Centaur character from the Beast Quest series. For those that don't know, Beast Quest is a series of about 12,068 books written for young boys about quests, swords, strange beasts and weird older men who have an thing for spell casting and/or breaking. It's very popular with the kids. I am just happy my six year old is reading and not taking GBH at some rave.

Herein lies the true essence of Book Week. Making already over-worked, guilt-ridden and time-poor parents feel even more inadequate because they can't hand stitch an owl mask from Labradoodle hair and apply textured torso body paint at 7am in the morning, just to subtlety state to judgemental parental peers that your child's literary exposure extends beyond Marvel colouring books and Where's Wally? If only I had a Bitcoin for every Wally I have spotted across this Book Week, I'd be as wealthy as J.K. Rowling.

So tomorrow we face off for the final time, Book Week! The three year old wants to go as Wonder Women. I took her to the library last weekend and borrowed a visual anthology of Wonder Women so that her choice had some depth and authenticity to it. I hadn't been to the library since the late 90s when it was one of the first places to get 'the Google'. I note that you've even managed to infiltrate there. We came across a geriatric children's entertainer wandering between the book shelves singing homespun songs about you on a ukulele. This week makes a people do strange things.

So be warned Book Week... I am onto you. I am all for kids reading more and celebrating books. That cant be a bad thing. I also love the creativity and imagination that is encouraged from dressing up. But do we have to combine them in a way that makes parents sleep deprived and late for work? A new season of Game of Thrones is bad enough. I guess we are just lucky the kids aren't old enough to read George R.R. Martin and asking to go as White Walkers.