Nakedness Dens and Food

My life with four little boys

A bit of a fundraising rant

on November 14, 2014


Today is Children In Need which is an awesome charity and a wondrous moment in UK culture where the majority of folk pull together to raise money for some of the most vulnerable amongst us in society. This can only be a good thing and I want to make it absolutely clear at the beginning of this rant that I in NO WAY have an issue with Children In Need. In fact my big three, along with lots of other children, have paid today to go into school not in their uniform but dressed up as a favourite hero. Now, this is where I take issue. Not in the notion of non-uniform days. Or even in dressing up and having fun. BUT here’s the thing. Well a few things really, that have been pulsing through my veins as we have approached today…

Firstly, the cost. Most parents I know have ended up having to spend money on this. And this isn’t money that has gone to Children In Need. This is money that has gone on the outfits that the children are paying a mere £1 to dress up in. In my opinion if the money we spend on the silly costumes totals more than the money we are giving to wear them, something has gone seriously wrong with where our hard earned cash is going. I would certainly rather my resources went directly to Children In Need than the retailers where I have had to buy my material/wigs/outfits/props from.

Secondly, what constitutes a hero? It struck me as we approached today just how many little girls were going as princesses. Now I absolutely appreciate the situation that parents find themselves in when it comes to events like this. Dressing up as a favourite hero for a 5 year old has very little to do with important icons in their tiny little lives, and everything to do with what parents can cobble together from the dressing up box without spending too much money and finding something that “will do”. I don’t judge anyone for doing this. I have done it myself. Countless times. Indeed son #3 went to school today as a generic knight for that exact reason. But isn’t there something concerning if we continue to sleep walk as a society into teaching our children, little girls in particular, that a princess is synonymous with being a hero. A character who is continually paraded in front of our children in most other contexts as someone whose sole purpose in life is to bag the prince and that will make all her dreams come true is now being thrust upon our little ones as a person to look up to – a hero. And likewise, my son instantly believes that a knight is someone who is a hero because he goes into battle rescuing the princess. I don’t know about you, but I want more for my children. I don’t want my sons growing up with the pressure of having to feel like they need to rescue anyone, any more than I want little girls growing up with the belief that they need to be rescued. I want to see girls dressed up as amazing historic figures or authors or sportswomen. And I want to see boys dressed up as men who are known for their kindness, intellect and talent rather than fictional figures known for mystical powers of recuse and brute force.

Thirdly, the learning opportunity. Now I appreciate that the whole exercise has the potential to raise awareness in the hearts and minds of our children about those less fortunate than themselves, which is nothing but an excellent opportunity in my book. The only thing is, that in my house anyway, it appears to have been missed. My boys (and I, if I’m being honest) have been so focussed on the ins and outs of their costumes that there hasn’t been a lot of room left for contemplating the serious nature of the reason and people behind it. If you asked them this week who they were going as today they could enthuse spectacularly. If you asked them why they were doing it they were much less certain. The talk in the playground has as all been about the costume; how cool it is, where it’s from, how it was made, how much hassle it’s been etc. At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, it kind of feels like the whole point of it has been lost somewhere along the way. I’m not saying that therefore we shouldn’t do it. On the contrary. Instilling events like this into the consciousness of our children is a good foundation on which to build with more information later. But I just wonder if we could have a bit less narcissism and a lot more altruism over how we go about stuff like this.

Like I said, I don’t want to knock Children In Need. Or schools for seeking to engage our children in creative fundraising exercises. I just believe there must be a better way to do it. Let’s scrap all talk of heroes unless we are going to do it properly. And whilst we’re at it, why not give parents a break altogether from the dread of having to come up with any costume in particular and just have a simple straightforward non-uniform day. Like I did growing up. And for that… to get rid of the pressure and the need to be creative and/or spend money… I for one would pay a hefty ransom… to Children In Need… the very thing which is supposed to be the focus of today’s efforts.

But the most important thing to say before I climb off my soapbox, is whether you have read this with relief that you’re not the only one that feels this way, or whether you couldn’t be more angry with me for dissing your efforts to do something good, please, please don’t forget that Children In Need is awesome. As are many other charities. So whatever you have taken from my rant, I beg you not to take the message to not be generous at times like this. If you have to do it via spurious attempts at hero costumes then, condolences, but so be it. Just don’t forget the reason for it all in the process. And try to make sure your children know the reason for it all whilst you’re at it. Oh, and if you haven’t given to this year’s Children In Need yet, or even feel like you could give more, you can do it here


Helen -x-

One response to “A bit of a fundraising rant

  1. Our school do exactly the same and I also get fed-up with it all. I refuse to spend much on outfits and actually my children don’t even want them and yes the superhero them is the worst. We just did heros and the kids dressed as people they felt made a real difference. Mich x

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