My daughter was two and a half when she was given the huge responsibility of bringing Coco the monkey; the day-care’s mascot home for the weekend. The room leader pressed an enormous scrapbook into my hands and gave me my instructions: “just do the stuff you usually do, and take photos of Coco joining in.”
I’d seen a fair share of class mascot photos in my Facebook feed and now it was my turn. I found myself gripped with anxiety; we simply had to show Coco the monkey the time of his life.
Unfortunately my cheeky daughter had other ideas. On Coco’s first night in our house she managed to prise a small hole in his stitching and pull out his stuffing. I discovered his limp body lying on her bedroom floor, surrounded by balls of fluff and stray threads.
This was how the words “Coco had a small mishap and needed to have a little operation” made it into Coco’s scrap-book. It was a new parenting low.
Fortunately the rest of the weekend went well and I was able to take a plethora of photos to prove it. There was a photo of Coco on the swings at our local park, a photo of Coco poolside watching his hostess in her weekly swimming lesson and a photo of Coco balanced precariously on the kitchen counter while we baked a batch of monkey shaped cup cakes in his honour.
I don’t mind admitting that while there were a few tears from my daughter I was very happy to hand Coco back to the day-care staff on the Monday morning.
Of course I am not the first parent to be stressed out by a visit from the school mascot. In fact a recent report in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) has revealed that while some parents are competing over who can show the class mascot the best time others have been “reduced to tears.”
In the report TES editor Ann Mroz said class teddy bears seem to “set a trap for many a host parent.”
"Parents find themselves nosing through the bear's diary to see what it has been up to on previous weekends and they start to judge and compare,” notes Mroz.
Some parents are responding to this by engaging in “one-upmanship” trying to out do each other with activities such as “piloting ships” and “attending VIP events.”
But while some parents are compelled to give the class mascot the five star treatment others are crumbling under the pressure.
"Some parents work all weekend, while others struggle with the English language to the point that just writing the report becomes a stressful exercise.
It's unfair that they should be judged harshly by other parents as a result," Mroz explains.
If you’re thinking that this mascot induced drama has ‘first world problems’ written all over it then you are not alone. It’s pretty remarkable that a small stuffed toy could cause all this drama and upset.
My advice? If you get lumbered with the class mascot try and keep it as simple as possible, if not for your own sanity, for the sake of the other parents who will be perusing your diary entry when it’s their turn.
But, at the end of the day, if you manage to keep the class mascot in one piece – you’ll be doing better than me.