Am I the only parent burdened by the Boden moment? I admit that it's horribly middle class, but there's something about those happy, happy children in the Boden catalogue, with their clear faces and messy, beach hair which appeals and appals in equal measure. They are the dream are they not? Children running free along sun-bleached boardwalks, their days long and carefree, their beautiful young bodies full of fresh fruit and candyfloss. Well, maybe not so much the candyfloss, or else it’s a special Boden candyfloss that’s somehow good for teeth and growing bones. They are dressed like angels, naturally, all fabrics soft as clouds, and all seams sown by little elves.
It tell you, those children are living the dream.
So, it goes without saying that we all want a piece of that action for our own offspring. We’re only human after all. The problem is (and you are probably already shouting this at the screen) it’s only a catalogue. It’s like trying to base your golden parenting moments on Swallows and Amazons or The Famous Five. It’s impossible, largely because in both those childhood idylls as well as in the Boden world, parents are almost wholly absent. Apparently, children can only bask in a state of perfect freedom sans parent, guardian or carer.
Take our recent holiday to Wales. I found the ideal cottage, on a cliff, complete with it’s own cove. All lovely. It was, really. Arthur labelled it “Cosy Quarters.” Johnny Boden would have been proud. But then the parent – me – steps in. It’s not that I did anything wrong exactly; it’s the very fact of being a parent. It ruins everything.
Firstly, I’d rather forgotten that Wales in the first week in April is bloody cold and not in a cheery, red-cheeked, hot chocolate kind of way. More like a, “can we go back to Cosy Quarters? This castle looks a lot like the last one and I’m freezing,” kind of cold. And secondly, there is just something about the family holiday that just never lives up to the Boden dream. My child ends up eating chips everyday for a week. My husband gets anxious at not being able to “log-on” (though he makes a valiant effort to hide it, bless him). And I just want to nap all the time, but am too anxious about the future of the lovely but oh so pale carpet in Cosy Quarters to fully relax. (“Take your shoes off! Don’t eat that in here – are you crazy!”)
Still, we had some fun, I think. OK, so it was more BHS than Boden, more a charity shop turn than a Gap master-class. It would have all worked better in July than April, and a darker colour carpet would have been a welcome break. But, in the end, our pasty-looking skin and over-wintered hair did pretty well. And there’s always the next trip, when I know we’ll picnic from a wicker basket and find a troops of dancing sea horse in all the rock pools. Or something like that.