I didn’t grow up in a very wealthy household. With my Dad constantly between jobs and my Mum’s income the only money keeping our family afloat, we were the definition of ‘Working Class’. That being said, we had everything we needed; food and shelter with luxuries like pets and a working TV. Life wasn’t bad.
There hasn’t been many time in my life where I’ve felt money was an issue… Unless there was an event at school. At primary school, there are countless days and organised events where you were expected to dress up: Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Christmas Parties. One such day was World Book Day when I was about 8 years old.
I really wanted to participate but didn’t have any costumes, so I made my own. Deciding to dress up as Oddball from 102 Dalmatians (a popular movie of mine at the time and a character that wouldn’t require me to vandalise any of my clothes), I picked out the lightest jumper and trousers I had. Being the late 90’s, early 2000’s, they were a digusting beige colour, how times have changed. Using some old tights stuffed with screwed up paper, I crafted a decent tail, using the other leg to tight it around my waist. I then stuck some paper ears onto a black headband. I even used a bit of pink ribbon as a makeshift collar. The finishing touch. 8-year-old me was very proud of herself and I really thought I had a good chance at winning the ‘Best Dressed’ competition.
Later that day, all the children gathered in the assembly hall ready to go on parade before the winner would be announced. Paws out in front, I proudly marched around, catching the eyes of my classmates as I passed. None of the kids around me had been so creative with their costumes. We then all lined up in front of everyone and the winner was announced…
… It was not me! A girl dressing as christmas Belle from Beauty and the Beast had won. Wearing a thick, luxurious, red cloak with a white fluff trim and even sporting a white fuffy hand muff, the winner was someone whose parents had spent a lot of money. I could only dream of official merchandise like that. This was the moment I truly realised the value of money and I was disgusted. Not a single bit of creativity had gone into her outfit. She probably didn’t even have to think of a character. I don’t know why that moment sticks so prominently in my memory. As an adult, I’m sure her parents were just being kind and why not, I’m sure if we had the spare income, my parents would have done the same. It’s the school who should have perhaps also recognised hard work and imagination. After all, thats what we want to encouage in our kids, isn’t it?
As the same school and around the same age, my class held a Halloween party. In a similar situation, I dressed up as a witch with the pointed hat and black bin bag as a cape. I even brought in one of my black cat soft toys to be my companion. We lined up again, praying to be chosen as the winner. This time, a kid dressed as Dracula, with a full vampire costume and fake blood, won. By this time in my life, I had developed a very bad loser trait. Fed up with never being recognised for the efforts I went to and as a kid with nothing else to worry about, this was a big deal. So I did something I’m not proud of…
… While everyone was dancing to the music, I sneakily stole his prize (which was a marshmallow selection box thing). When Mum came to collect me, I ran to her and told her that I had won and she was so proud of me. As a kid, thats all I really wanted, to make her proud. It wasn’t until years later that I actually confessed to my crimes and she was not impressed.
This is what happens when you favour the rich kids, it turns you to a life of crime… Well, perhaps not but it certainly left some lasting impressions on me and when I have children of my own, they are going to wear the most expensive consumes I can find! Or maybe I’ll just host my own parties.