Children In Need: The Albatross Around the Neck of Every Working Mother

Now, before you start to criticise the title of this post or point out the many worthy recipients of money raised by this well-loved charity, let me explain.  Actually, crack on and criticise.  I fucking hate Children in Need.  Sorry, not sorry.

It’s been the bane of my life, the thorn in my side and the albatross around my neck ever since I’ve had children old enough to attend pre-school.  That’s ten years.  Ten years of not being able to find a single, fecking, spotty item of clothing for boys.  Ten years of trawling round the select few shops that support CIN, trying to find merchandise that won’t require a re-mortgage of our house. Ten years of sitting up until midnight, painting/drawing/extracting my own blood to create spots on a t-shirt that won’t resemble spots in any way, shape or form on the finished product.

I’d love to say this year has been different, but the fact that I’m writing this blog suggests otherwise.

Because yesterday, after a long, hard day teaching stroppy, hormonal teenagers, I left work full of good intentions to find my two youngest children something fun and spotty for CIN.  Within thirty seconds of arriving at Asda, however, I realised it was once again a lost cause and berated myself for being so naive.

Within sixty seconds I was already muttering, ‘Fuck you, Pudsey!’ as I wandered up and down…and up and down…and up and down the clothing aisles that were emphatically lacking anything sporting spots.

I then made the schoolboy error of wandering into the girls’ section, where I developed a bad case of Tourette’s as I spied spotty leggings, spotty tights, spotty t-shirts, spotty wellies, spotty fucking hairbands…you get the idea.

I reluctantly returned to the boys’ section, hoping that I had somehow missed the dedicated spotty section as I’d stood crying at the eye-watering abundance of spotty merchandise for girls.  My abject heart almost leaped out of my chest as I caught a glimpse of a bright yellow stand, with an unmistakable CIN logo…and found, you guessed it: girls’ spotty pyjamas.  And breathe.

But hey, at least there were Pudsey key-rings.  And obviously, my children are going to be totally satisfied with hanging a tiny ‘blink-and-you-miss-it’ teddy with an eye-patch on their school bag when every fecker else is spotted up to the nines.

There were also Pudsey socks…for women.  Oh, and some fluffy light up ears at £4 each, that I knew my boys would remove as soon as they stepped through the school gates.  FFS.

In desperation and after much deliberation (and swearing, obvs.), I settled on some ‘paint splashed’ trackies for M and a ‘if you look very closely the weave of this fabric looks a bit spotty’ jumper for Z.

Then I got home and sold the items to the boys for all I was worth: ‘I thought you’d like this because you can wear it for the school disco’/’It’s cooler than any of that Pudsey stuff anyway’/’I’ll paint your faces spotty – you’ll look ace!’/And finally: ‘If you say you don’t like this then I WILL cry like a baby’.

They caved (they could see I was a woman on the edge).

I consoled myself by imagining what I would do to Pudsey Bear if I ever got my hands on the furry, friendly, eye-patch wearing t**t.

I went to bed a broken woman.

Somehow, they awoke this morning with unwavering enthusiasm.  I awoke this morning with a deep-seated sense of dread.  I wondered how I could so clearly remember the number of botched face decorations I was guilty of when they clearly couldn’t.  They must have blocked it out due to the trauma. Halloween 2015, anyone?

Undeterred (or left with no choice), I used my Urban Decay lipstick (RRP £15.50) and my Mac eyebrow gel (RRP 16.50) to paint dots on the faces of my darling children, crying on the inside as my beloved ‘Vice’ lipstick blunted beyond repair and my eyebrow gel created cute (albeit expensive) freckles in lieu of setting my unruly eyebrows in place.

At least I knew they were ‘lasting wear’ and ‘smudge-proof’ (silver linings and all that).

Thinking the trauma was almost over, we were then reminded that we needed to give each of them a pound, for the privilege of participating in this complete inconvenience and utter ball-ache.

It transpired we didn’t have £2 in the whole house.  At least, not in pound coin form.  So we proceeded to: raid money boxes and empty out my going out bags (in case I still had money left at the end of the night that I’d forgotten about – yeah, right, because that always happens).

We tipped out the money mug, which pathetically yielded only 2ps.  We pleaded with J but he claimed he only had money on his bank card (alright for some).  We searched under sofa cushions which offered up many unidentified foodstuffs but no cash.

With great difficulty, we eventually managed to cobble together the money…the unfortunate downside being that they sounded like charity boxes being violently shaken outside the doors of Marks and Spencer’s every time they walked.

I was about to curl up in the foetal position when I suddenly remembered that I had pound coins in my pencil case from students who had paid a nominal amount towards their text books and that I hadn’t yet handed in.  So I swapped the coppers and 5ps and got ready to set off for work.

It turned out, though, that CIN wasn’t intent on only ruining my morning, it wanted my whole day.  Because I had to eat a ham sandwich for my breakfast straight after cleaning my teeth as I hadn’t had time for breakfast.  Because as I arrived at school (late), I looked down and noticed a huge and stubborn toothpaste stain on my black dress as I had brushed in such a hurry.  Because the first person I saw pointed out that I had lipstick on my nose, courtesy of kissing my six year old goodbye who had asked for a red nose as part of his ‘costume’.

And because as I walked into the school yard to collect my boys, thinking I had actually nailed it, that I was a full-time working mum who could do this ‘being organised enough to sort out charity stuff and still get their homework in on time’ shit, I looked around at all the CIN/Pudsey clad/genuine-spot adorned children, and instantly knew that once again it was Pudsey 1, Distressed Housewife 0.

Damn you, Pudsey fucking Bear!  Damn you, Children in Need!  And damn you, manufacturers of boys’ spot-free clothing!  Until next year… (glugs wine straight from the bottle).


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