Don't get me started on the ridiculousness of setting a six-and-a-half-year-old boy the task of creating an Easter bonnet. I did mention to the teacher that this was hardly a boy-friendly activity and perhaps they should have been able to fashion their own Easter guns instead. She laughed and agreed: "Yes to take out some of those bunnies". Miss B is definitely a woman after my own heart.
Being a good mummy, on occasion at least, I went out to Hobbycraft and cleaned them out of ribbons, stickers and other Easter ephemera, plonked the goodies and a straw hat in front of my less than impressed son, and left him to do his worst. To be fair he does have some artistic flair, inherited from his father's side of the family, so he did a pretty good job of creating a seasonal bonnet. That he refused to wear it because it makes him look a bit of a berk is neither here nor there.
So off we trot to the last day of school, me juggling the bonnet alongside my usual collection of school run detritus. As my son's straw creation threatened to take off in the icy March winds, other mums had cleverly thought ahead to protect their precious hats. One arrived with hers shrouded in an old shoe box, while others had cocooned theirs in layers of plastic bags.
As the children began to place the bonnets on the teacher's desk I began to realise why. While my son's hat has a distinctly home made feel to it, others were quite clearly the work of artistic prodigies (far be it from me to suggest that perhaps the mummies had had a hand in these fantastical creations).
There was one complex nest affair make of intricately woven strands of raffia, artfully studded with fluffy yellow chicks and spring flowers, another had its wide brim gorgeously flooded with a meadows worth of daffodils. Then there was the gorgeous top hat fashioned from stiff green card decorated with pretty tissue blooms. They were enough to make Philip Treacy proud.
I was on the verge of snatching back my son's creation when I spied a hat that showed even less effort. A red baseball cap with a stuffed chick perched on top. Now here was a mum who had her priorities right. Though even she felt the need to apologise for her lack of effort by explaining that her new dishwasher had been installed the night before, so she'd had no time for millinery. I would have preferred it if she'd sashayed off with an insouciant disregard for her classroom shame.
As the mums fussed and fluttered over their creations, screaming at their children to be careful with them, I watched a little girl arrive with a hat made from blank pieces of paper sellotaped together to form a rough crown. On each paper panel she had drawn a picture, I'm not quite sure what of, but that just made it even more obvious that she had taken the time to draw and colour them in herself.
Later on today there is a competition and the best bonnet will receive a prize. I am hoping that it will go to this little girl or a child like her, and not the pupil whose mum is most handy with the Pritt stick and crepe paper. I hope the teachers reward the creativity of the kids, and not their mums. Even though that little girl's crown was an ugly duckling amongst swans, I think it was the nicest hat I saw because she had made it herself, and not had her project hijacked by an overachieving mummy.