By the time we arrive at the School Christmas Fair, my children are so excited that they are barely able to control themselves. When I deny my youngest son some lavender bath bombs from the Luxury Goods stall, he launches into a ferocious tantrum – I attempt to reason with the thrashing child while feeling I am being judged with Ofsted-levels of scrutiny by all who surround us.
Still wearing my coat, despite being inside school (one of the warmest environments known to man), a sweat of sheer embarrassment takes hold of me. My only option is to offer more spending opportunities, and the suggestion of face painting eventually works.
My eldest son is now too embarrassed to be associated with us, so I give him £5 to spend on anything, apart from Drumstick lollipops, and tell him to meet me by the Prosecco stall in an hour. I already know that meeting won’t happen – I will be frantically searching for my ‘lost’ child while he goes nuts on the playground, high on £5 worth of Drumstick lollipops.
On our way to the Face Painting stall, we visit the Lucky Dip, Chocolate Tombola, Guess the Weight of the Cake, Name the Teddy Bear and the Hamper Raffle, to name but a few. My middle son then starts begging to go to the Henna Tattoo stall. The queue is enormous and I reluctantly join it, becoming increasingly irate with every unaccompanied child who helps themselves to the front of the line, and nearly losing my mind playing eight rounds of Eye Spy and 15 games of Stone Paper Scissors. As we get tantalisingly close to it being our turn, the littlest announces that he needs the toilet. As we race to the loo, losing our place in the queue, I am on the brink of my own ferocious tantrum.
By the time we eventually reach the Face Painting stall, I am a broken woman. Every other family appears to be so content, whereas I want to admit myself into a private institution. With my purse emptied, I announce it is time to head home and my kids act as if I am the most diabolical human on the planet.
Back at the house I try to recover by hiding in the bathroom eating Custard Creams, vowing to myself that their Dad will take them to the fair next year.
BY AMY WINDSOR