To begin this tale of woe, I'll first have to fill you in on the fact that Ruby began nursery some months ago. When her big sister Ava started going, Ruby missed her so much and, every day we dropped Ava off and Ru had to come home with boring old mummy, there were floods of tears. It was obvious Ruby, despite being younger, wanted to go too.
Anyway, the nursery the girls attend is just fantastic and every so often they lay on a big party for the children and their families. This Easter was no exception. When we turned up on Thursday (much to the bemusement of Ru whose body clock must have told her this was not supposed to be a nursery day at all) the playground was chock full of children and their parents. There was a bouncy castle, a steel band and a barbecue, it was terrific.
There was also, I happened to notice as we went through the play room, a big pile of very impressive looking Easter hats. And about half an hour after arriving, I overheard something that explained why. There was about to be an Easter bonnet parade. With prizes.
How could I not have known?! I was sure it must have been my fault* – I'd probably been told about the competition one day when I was attempting to pack the girls into the buggy and they were attempting to leg it back in to their friends. I'd probably nodded and pretended I was listening.
But this was a catastrophe! Both the girls did have little straw hats, but we had adorned them with, well, almost nothing. The other hats were magnificent by comparison. They were decorated with eggs, chicks and bunnies, they had massive flowers made of colourful tissue paper, they flowed with ribbons - bloody hell, one hat even appeared to have a real nest on the top of it.
Dan, mistaking humour for a statement that would make me feel even worse than I already did, said: "You do realise that these Easter bonnets are metaphors which represent how much we," (he gestured towards all the happy-looking grown ups) "as parents, love our children?"
Resisting the urge to hit him, I fantasised about whizzing out and relieving all the neighbouring gardens of their rose bushes and magnolia trees, and some how attaching them to the pitiful heads of my daughters. But it was too late.
As it goes, I am delighted to say that my burden of guilt was relieved somewhat not only by my own Terrible Two, but by a whole roomful of two and three-year-olds.
Ruby (admittedly perhaps because she had an inkling her hat was rubbish) wanted no part of it. Our attempts to cajole her into the contest were met with roars and back arching. If she'd had the verbal capacity, she'd have said: "You want me to come indoors when there is a bouncy castle outside. Are you KIDDING ME?"
Ava did get stuck in, but she and the rest of her friends proved beautifully that the competition was perhaps more for the mums and dads than it was for the children themselves - many of them had not a clue what was going on.
When one of the key workers gave the instruction to begin the parade (meaning they should walk to the end of the room, turn round and come back again), the little girl at the front of the line just kept going... all way back out in to the playground. "Er, hang on, where are they going?! Children! Come back this way please! Someone turn them around!"
By the time they had been turned around and sent back to their waiting audience, two children had removed their hats (including Ava, although also possibly because she knew hers was rubbish) and one little girl returned clasping a sausage she'd purloined from the barbecue area, it was hilarious!
That said, next year I'll be prepared. Next year we will make bonnets with capital Bs. The girls will need neck braces to support the weight of the Easter paraphernalia. That big fluffy first prize bunny will be OURS! Unless there's a bouncy castle again, obviously.
* It occurred to be while writing this that it might not be my fault at all. I now suspect that Dan was told one morning when he did the drop off and the whole 'Easter bonnets as metaphors for love' thing was to throw me off the scent. I am hereby relieving myself of all blame and the girls and I are going to eat his Easter egg before he gets home tonight to teach him a lesson.
You can catch up on previous Terrible Twos columns here