SAM CURTIS: Less Red Nose, more red-faced for charity
Red Nose Day on Friday proved once again why I need to take more time to digest letters sent home from school.
I finish work early on Thursdays and having remembered the next day was Do Something Funny for Money day at Lottie's school I took a detour on my way home to seek out any Comic Relief merchandise I could get my hands on.
I was determined that my daughter would not be the only child who rocked up at the school gates in her uniform.
The last time there was a chance for her to dress up, Mr C and I missed it and sent her off in standard schoolwear, only to discover a sea of pupils in her class wearing neon T-shirts and leg warmers for Bike It day. I think the withering look of 'I told you I could dress up' when I collected her at the end of the day scarred me for life.
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Anyway, I was on a mission. Except I was failing miserably.
None of the obvious places like the big lifestyle shop in Tritton Road in Lincoln had any Red Nose regalia. I was loathe to spend £15 on a Stella McCartney T-shirt which was several sizes too big for my seven-year-old, who probably wouldn't care how 'cool and edgy' the design was.
I had only one option. To customise a plain white Tee.
So intent on the task in hand was I that I actually lost track of time (not like me) among the fabric pens, acrylic bobbles and stick on lettering.
On looking at my watch, I realised I was now in danger of running 15 minutes late to pick Lottie up from computer club. Let me assure you, this is not something I want to admit to readily, the guilt I feel still lingers on but I assuage that emotion by telling myself I was doing it for a couple of good causes – one; for charity and two; to not let Lottie down (again).
At least my heart was in the right place, even if the rest of my body wasn't.
Luckily, a good friend who lives just around the corner came to my rescue and saved my child from the shame of being the last kid to be collected by tearing off to school to collect her in plenty of time.
I called in to pick up Lottie from my neighbour and we headed home. I told her we had a project to complete after tea, that she could design her very own Red Nose Day T-shirt to wear at school. She was so excited she got stuck in straight away.
I was impressed.
She even took the time to sketch out how she wanted to decorate her garment and between us we glued on red bobbles, foam lettering and Lottie got artistic with the permanent marker pens. Luckily she did manage to spell all her words correctly.
By the time we had finished, in between eating macaroni cheese and garlic bread, it was almost time for Lottie to head off to bed.
We admired her handiwork. It was a masterpiece. It had everything but the kitchen sink stuck to it, with PVA glue oozing through every fibre. Stella eat your heart out, I thought.
Lottie gingerly modelled it to make sure she was entirely happy with the finished product and decided that with her triceratops red nose and her deely-boppers, she would definitely look the part the next day.
As Lottie pulled on her pyjamas, I scanned the letter from school one more time to make sure I hadn't missed anything.
Except, on a closer read, it turns out I had. Under the section that invited kids to decorate their shoes or slippers, (not a mention of a T-shirt anywhere) there was one line of print that simply read, 'children to wear school uniform'.
I looked at Lottie's excited little face and back at her creation. She was so proud of it. I broke the news gently to her that she couldn't wear it after all and she gave the sweetest reply. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, 'doesn't matter mummy, I just enjoyed making it with you'. I hugged her for being so forgiving.
In a bid to look like we had made some effort, we hastily stuck red bobbles and fake eyelashes on a pair of old slippers, which promptly fell off as soon as she walked anywhere in them and she went to bed, happy in the knowledge that she was ready for Funny Toes day.
The next morning, we took the T-shirt into school to show her teacher – the damn thing was going to make it onto the premises one way or another (and for the savvy readers, that is indeed a reference to One Direction's charity single.)
As for Comic Relief night, yes we watched Jessie J shave her head and yes we cried at the films of poorly kids, even Mr C looked a bit flushed and tearful at one point and I am almost certain he didn't have anything in his eye.
Weekly columnist Sam Curtis, 42, is mum to Lottie, 7, and lives in Lincoln in a house that's not as tidy as she'd like with her football writer husband Leigh and a cat and a dog that don't get along, ever.
All for charity: Lottie may not have been able to wear her T-shirt but we had fun making it