Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snowmen in the Sunset

That dreaded time of year is upon us again, the time of year that induces tears, fury, jealousy, and tantrums in most parents. That's right it's the Christmas School play season. The time of year where patient Mothers turn into impatient seamstresses, and weekend Fathers show their faces, and their suits, in public. The clever pushy Mum's who know the score, spend the whole of November cozying up to the Teachers, hoping to land their kids the plum roles. The political hierarchy of the Yummy Mummies comes out in full force, and the in-house cat fighting begins. I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but the Mum who organised the Teachers Christmas pressie (£5 per child, 30 kids in the class, you do the math) is also the proud Mother of this year's Virgin Mary.

The powers that be, wisely decided that my help was not needed in neither the costume nor the scenery department, so all I had to do was just turn up on the day and enjoy. Although that is easier said than done, if you get there too late then you won't be seeing much of anything. Promptness is King.

Bearing that in mind, the wife sent me ahead and I got there 25 minutes early. I still managed to find myself 20th in a queue that was starting to get ugly, and I mean really ugly. The heat in the small reception room was making all the heavily applied mascara run, and the combined smell of the House of Frasier perfume counter was a becoming a bit overwhelming. When the door was finally opened, I was told that prams were not allowed in and had to be left outside the reception. Gee, thanks for the advance warning Ms Frosty the Receptionist. I battled my way outside, got Mate out of the buggy, and battled my way back in. This obviously left me way back in the line and way back in the 7th row. I got the traditional 'Why in God's name are we sitting there' look when the Wife did show up, but I had started to learn how to deflect those. Years of sitting on the wrong side of church during various weddings had taught me that much.

I looked around and watched all the middle class Dads have their 'who has the biggest camera lens' battle. The kids were going to be facing greying, balding, paparazzi when they eventually set foot on the stage. The Headmaster stood up and announced that, due to Health and Safety reasons, all photography was prohibited during the performance. For parents that had sent their kids to a Catholic school, there sure was a lot of blasphemy in the air. The Dad sitting next to me promptly got his Blackberry out, and fired of an email to his Solicitor. The jist of which, was to see if he could get a quick injunction against the school for Copyright infringement.

I had initially worried when Katy came home from school saying she was going to be a snowman in this year's play. It couldn't be that big a part, as I was fairly sure there wasn't much snow around Jerusalem, and in no bible I had ever read, had it mentioned the 3 wise men making snowmen and having a snow ball fight. When I saw the play was called Snowmen in the Sunset though, I started to imagine Oscar glory for her after all. Unfortunately towards the middle of the 1st act, the sun came out and melted all the snowmen, leaving us to ponder the real meaning of Christmas and the traditional nativity scene. I have to say though, Katy's head did look good for the 2 minutes she was on the stage, but I do wish I had remembered to comb her hair that morning.

The play went without much of a hitch, until one of the kids in their excitement knocked over one of the huge floor microphones. The resulting feedback screech and boom was deafening. This caused quite an upset to the children, and the air was full of the smell of tears and soiled under-garments. The teachers calmed them all down eventually, but by the time the performance was over, it wasn't just the reindeers with red noses.

The play finished at 2.30, but we were told we couldn't pick our offspring up until 3.15pm. I had no idea why, maybe they were having a wrap party? This left us with time to kill in a very cold playground. One of the more adventurous Mums suggested we walk around the corner to the nearby builder's café, and a few of us agreed. On the way there my wife remarked that to expect us to just stand outside doing nothing for 40 minutes was "Too hard." My unwise retort to which was, "Tell that to the five year old Indian boy in Delhi, knocking batteries apart for the chemicals inside." Whilst this raised a chuckle among some of the men folk, it also earned me a 'you wait till we get home look'. The ferocity of which had not been seen since I inadvertently let slip in front of the other Mums, that her Prada clutch bag was actually a fake. It's not, but I had consumed a few beers, and her genuine argument to prove it wasn't, only made her look guiltier. Actually it was after that weekend that I decided to buy a less drafty shed.

The highlight of the day came when Posh Mum and Even Posher Mum ordered themselves a Costafrapachino and a Mocahontas. The horror on their faces when told their options were black, white, sugar or not, was a joy to behold. Both sides of the counter examined each other as if they were an unknown species. The coffees were quickly consumed, and a hasty retreat was beat back to the school.

We arrived just in time to see a triumphant Katy bounce out of her classroom, arms, legs, costume and uniform akimbo. "Did you see me, did you hear me, wasn't I good." Not a question, just a statement. It was very hard not to agree with her, she was brilliant.


The Dotterel said...

You have a reception room to wait in? And it's heated? Luxury....

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

Brilliantly described!Loved this!
I'm a governor at my son's former primary school and am given a reserved seat in the front row for the nativity play. God the embarrassment and the feeling of all those eyes digging into my back, for getting a good view. I tried one year to sneak in at the back but was spotted and told to come to the front!

Emily O said...

Hilarious! No wonder you can only cope with that once a year. I've been enthusiastic this first year but can imagine that waning over time...

Heather said...

reading this makes me so pleased they don't start school here until they are 7. A few more years before i have to endure it all.

George's Mum said...

bloody hilarious!!!

Mummy bear said...

Just read this post out loud to Mr Scruff. How we laughed! There was a genuine male comradeship moment over the poor seating arrangement. Been there, done that, had the argument!! Priceless writing.. and well done Katy.

Cate P said...

Every parent who's been there can relate, and those who haven't yet are at least now forewarned and hopefully forearmed.....with a bigger and better camera lens.
Brilliantly funny J, love your work (your passion) as usual.

Geriatric Mummy said...

Excellent ! I particularly enjoyed the Prada and coffee incidents :-)

Angela Montague said...

One of the best post in my opinion. Very funny and true.

Of course I need to mention at this point that my daughter was Mary this year *apologetic cough* which prompted her dad to ask why we were not guaranteed front row seats as part of her entourage.

Having bagged the part of 'third child in the gutter' in my Nativity, I quickly worked on my hatred of the swotty, goody two shoes who were picked to be Mary. Now, as I find I am the mother of the mother of God, I am doing a dramatic U Turn and saying it's such a wonderful honour.

The other daughter was a cow. Thankfully she is unaware that saying "I'm a cow" has another meaning altogether, and we managed to keep a straight face when she told us.

Anyhow, enough of me. Well done you.

Insomniac Mummy said...

I had my first experience of the school nativity this year (the boy is just 3 and the nursery were involved too)although our school sounds decidedly more downmarket than yours.

Particular highlights were the prescence of two policemen in the cloakrooms and the woman next to me who had a full loud conversation on her mobile mid performance.


Bonus was by some miracle we managed to get front row seats!


littlebrownbird said...

I was Mary seven years running, yes SEVEN, though this did involve seven Josephs and without bribery from my parents.

I do get sick of selling M&S gift cards for teachers. What happened to a box of chocs and a verbal thank you?

In addition, my nephew (4) got the role of Donkey. To his credit he did ask if he could be a sheep instead, to which Miss Martin said no.

Hoping for Joseph next year ;)

quillfeather said...

It's only taken me (nearly) 2 weeks to comment, however, I now can't remember what on earth you wrote about?.... kidding :)

As always, your post was as crisp as a newly picked lettuce!

Merry Christmas, if I don't speak to you before. Mwah....

Diana Maria said...

This is a gem. (I'm still laughing!)

It takes me back to those plays I attended when my own kids were little.

Love it!