MY YOUNGEST brought a note home that read, "School social on Wednesday night - dress code - free choice".
Free choice? Oh please no. Pass me a bucket.
The only wording worse than "free choice" on a school note is "fundraiser chocolate drive money overdue" or "contact the principal immediately".
Let me translate the "free choice dress code" as interpreted in the mind of a teen queen.
It literally means that none of the clothes or costumes already spilling out of her wardrobe will be suitable. She will require something way more fabulous. Something way more gorgeous than any creation her girlfriends will be wearing, and something totally out there.
"So what do you want to go as?" I asked while praying it wasn't going to be anything too ambitious, too costly or involving a sewing machine.
"A demented fairy."
Naturally. I don't know why I didn't see that one coming.
Okay, drama averted. Demented we can do.
Although the "fairy" bit might take a little work.
"Sweetie, just fill me in here, how does the whole 'demented fairy' look go again?" I asked.
"You know," she replied, "it's like a bit raggedy, lots of like black and pink crushed stuff, wild crazy unbrushed hair and an attitude to match."
"Oh right, and this differs from your everyday look how?"
After more detailed discussion (that was heard by most of the neighbourhood) it was agreed that she would recycle her pink fairy outfit from a couple of years ago.
We would cut off the wings and jagger the edges of the costume's tulle skirt, and to stop her being arrested for indecent exposure (she's grown a bit since grade four), she would complete her demented fairy ensemble with a pair of ripped black tights and a black t-shirt.
All was going surprisingly well until we came to the accessories.
The wild hair and wild attitude were frighteningly easy to produce but when it came to the black lipstick and black nail polish, which, according to my youngest is "like duh a basic requirement for demented fairies", it was another matter entirely.
I now understand why "goths" (teenagers dressed in pitch black from head to toe) have such dour and gloomy expressions - it's not that easy finding black nail polish and lippy.
When it comes to shopping I'm a professional, in fact I like to class myself in the elite category, but it was four shops and three bargain bins before I finally hit the jackpot and found some black nail polish.
And when at last I did manage to find it I still had to deal with the sales assistant's condescending, "aren't we a little too old for that shade" look.
As for black lippy - it's an urban myth.
I'm convinced the whole "goth" black liquorice lip look thing started as an accident, more as a result of something created by Darrell Lea rather than Estee Lauder.
On the night of the school social my "demented fairy" did a few pirouettes in the lounge room showing off her costume to an under whelmed big brother and a dog who took cover under the couch.
"I'm ready, can someone drive me now?" Glances were exchanged between hubby and me. Someone with a driver's licence was going to have to get off the couch and drive that child to the social.
Time for a little "free choice" of my own, "You're a fairy - fly."
Family Taming is a weekly humour column.