A little butterfly sat on the steps crying. A sweet ‘mariposa’. My seven year old daughter was having her initiation into carnival when we lived in Spain a few years ago, parading round the narrow cobbled streets as a butterfly to celebrate the beginning of spring. Sweets were thrown out of windows. There was a mad scramble. Spanish children have been clearly trained from toddlers to dive in and pick them up unharmed while my own little butterfly simply got crushed until I found her, one wing hanging off, in the middle of a group of school friends.
Winding forward to one February day last year when I dropped my son off at his Portuguese school in fancy dress. I’d grabbed a mask at the last minute when he mentioned that morning that he was supposed to turn up in a costume. I waved goodbye as he stood among Snow Whites, Jedi and an assortment of costumes recycled from Halloween, and returned home. When I picked him up in the afternoon he clutched a bag of sweets he’d been handed. “Good party?” I asked him.
“Yes but we walked around the streets in a parade and where were you?”
“Ah, well no-one told me that’s what you were doing. Sorry.” Feeling of inadequate parenting and visions of son being traumatised for life because I hadn’t been there to watch.
Okay I’d missed my son’s first parade but at least he wasn’t crushed in any mad sweet scramble scuffle.
This year I dropped him off at school in full knight’s outfit and watched the other children happily sporting zorro costumes, pirate outfits and flamenco dresses amid a sea of satin princesses. Ready for the parade they stepped out the school yard. Then came the rain. As it came tumbling down the teacher hurried them back inside. I went home. Another parade missed.
That was Thursday. On Friday it was time for the carnival parade to take place in the main town with all the schools attending. I dropped him off at school then headed into town. I sipped coffee with a friend as I waited in a café, unsure of the exact time, guessing the route. This time nothing would go wrong. Surely.
Suddenly groups of people started sauntering down the road. I grabbed my camera and joined them. The parade approached, teachers were dressed up too, one in a particularly fine bunny rabbit outfit. A police car headed up the front of the parade while other police stopped traffic. The children from my son’s school were dressed as snowmen They looked fabulous. Indeed all the schools did with each one having a different theme. Some were nurses, others scarecrows with straw poking out the bottom of sleeves instead of hands, there were tiny tots dressed as lady birds, a group of spring flowers, Robin Hoods and many others all looking spectacular and well, there’s no getting away from it, just cute. No-one threw sweets. It didn’t rain.
I’m happy to say it was a perfect parade. All hail the onset of spring and sunshine!