Quite what came over me, I’ll never know… but it seemed like a good idea. I was wrapping my granddaughter’s birthday presents when it occurred to me… they were all all the princessy things which she loves, to play dressing-up. It fuels a child’s imagination, and, when I go round to see her, I invariably end up wielding a wand, wearing a crown or a witch’s hat, drinking tea from empty cups or with hair like a rainbow Rapunzel. Why not, thought I, go round in ‘princess mode’ instead and give her a surprise?
I rummaged through my own ‘dressing up’ gear, combining the workshop wardrobe department with some imagination of my own and, five minutes later, was robed and regalia’ed up to the eyeballs. It was, if I say so myself, a fair approximation of Hollie’s dress-up-princess… apart from several decades of age-difference.
The dog, her curiosity satisfied and sufficient hair deposited on my skirts to mark them as her territory, eyed me askance as I picked up the presents and headed for the door. Thanks to Ani, I would be more of a furry grandmother than a fairy godmother. But that was the least of my problems…
For a start, I had forgotten that it was still daylight. The car is parked at some distance from the house and crossing the street would leave me very visible… and as Halloween is long past, I had no excuse…
I put my head down and made a dash for it. So far so good. I hadn’t reckoned with the stares from passing motorists and pedestrians, nor had I, until the other car reversed out of the driveway straight at mine, considered the potential embarrassment of having an accident whilst dressed like a fairy…
The short drive was suddenly fraught with danger. Hazards on bikes, unheeding motorists and oblivious pedestrians seemed to attend every yard… It was with a huge sigh of relief that I arrived at my granddaughter’s home.
Now, about this time, it finally occurred to me that her other grandparents, her uncles, aunts and cousins, could well be there too… There is a lesson in forethought here. All I had wanted to do was surprise my little granddaughter on her birthday. Instead, I was possibly about to create a village legend. Never mind, I thought, it would make Hollie smile.
I opened the door… Hollie took one look, shouted ‘Grandma!’ and squealed with delight. She didn’t even notice I was all dressed up! All she saw was her grandma…and the sparkly packages I was carrying.
Not so my son, who collapsed in a puddle of mirth, or his partner’s family… all lined up on the couch… who thought it was hilarious. His partner, trying to hide her laughter, asked politely what I’d been up to dressed like that. ‘She’s a princess‘, her mother explained, almost exploding with merriment. By this time, the whole room was in fits of giggles… all except my granddaughter and her little cousins who were completely unfazed by my sartorial strangeness.
“I’ll never live it down…” The cameras were busy… “Not for a couple of years at least…” said the latest arrival, grinning. My son, by this time, is occupied teaching his daughter to tap her head and say ‘Cuckoo….’ Hollie herself, royally attired in her new, frothy, princess outfit, thought this was funny, though still seemed to see nothing unusual about grandma. I am not certain whether or not to be reassured by that.
With dignity, Hollie blew out her three candles, ate her cake and decided the two of us would retire to the kitchen floor to do jigsaw puzzles together where we spent a pleasant hour playing quietly. By the time I left, she had still neither noticed nor questioned why grandma looked weird or why everyone was still laughing. None of the children had done so.
I thought that was beautiful.
The adults had laughed at the discrepancy between normality and my appearance. Hollie had only seen Grandma. A child sees only who you are, not how you dress or what you pretend to be.