Well, actually, this year I shall be a tortoise. It’s carnival time at La Gidg’s school and her class (and some of the parents) are dressing up as tortugas. Over the years we have been cows, cherries, Ecuadorian Indians and starfish. Don’t snigger, it’s important to me: one year I couldn’t make it to the carnival parade because I was working and another parent held my little girl’s hand as she marched around Port Andratx: I felt so left out, and such a bad parent, that I swore to never miss it again.
The costumes that we make have developed in complexity since the humble cow costume (which was essentially a bin bag with white splodges stuck on it). We were so disorganised one year that we forgot to buy the special hat that everyone was getting for their costumes and my husband stayed up all night constructing an appalling handmade hat (Gidg wore it proudly because her daddy had made it for her, but in retrospect, it looked pretty bad). Last year we had to collect ten plastic bottles per costume and then cut them out into star shapes (you had to be there to understand) and this year we are really going for it. We are full on turtles. ‘Mummy, I am going to be a ground tortuga like the ones in the forest, and you can be one of those GIANT ones from the Galapagos.’ Hmmm, yes darling.
So, off we trot to school with the other parents to cut out foam shell shapes and hats. There is some discussion about how to stick the foam together, and it’s not easy to understand tortoise making instructions when they are delivered in Catalan which are then translated into Castillano, and then misinterpreted in less than perfect Spanglish. It’s all a bit too Blue Peter for me, as I tend to go freestyle and off piste when it comes to painting: Pilar, La Gidg’s teacher, will painstakingly explain it to me, and I will nod sagely as if I am really listening, and then promptly forget everything I was told. So I need careful supervision. However what I tend to get is: ‘Mummy, NO! Pilar said we had to do it THIS way.’ You get the drift.
I am looking forward to our carnival parade though, despite what I might sound like. It’s yet another one of those Mallorcan events which is all the sweeter because it is still novel to me. I feel like an idiot walking down the streets dressed as fruit, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
(First published in the Euro Weekly News on February 25th 2011)