I’ve spent the weekend combing the internet for a suitable snowflake costume. We’re on our third. The first didn’t fit; the second wasn’t a dress (‘I have to wear a dress Mummy – how can I twirl without a dress?’ Naturally) and the third wasn’t white enough. She looked like a snowflake in it, just a slightly dirty one.
Pre-children, I hadn’t given a thought to nativity plays since i managed to land the part of Mary when I was nine, my first speaking part in six nativity plays, and then promptly got flu. I still bear a grudge against the girl that got to wear that blue dress and hold that plastic Jesus. Last year child 1 was some kind of animal – a cow, perhaps, but it was never made that clear. He refused to speak of the nativity play; it wasn’t until I was actually there that I realised that all the other children had learned the songs at home. The kind teacher assured me that it wasn’t that he didn’t know the songs, as they’d spent the last month singing them until the teachers doubtless would have thrown themselves at a wall rather than hear it again. It was just that he didn’t want to sing them. That made me feel much better when he was the only cow (or rat possibly, or pig) not singing; he was too busy trying to knock the mask off the cow in front. This year he denied all knowledge of any kind of Christmas performance until last week, when he finally admitted that he is one of the three wise men. He likes this, because he gets to wear a crown. He’d prefer a sword, because in a five year old boy’s life there is nothing that cannot be improved by a weapon, but a crown is a vast improvement on a cow mask. I am also confident that there will be no knocking off other children’s masks this year, partly because he is more grown up this year, and party my because his teacher is Very Strict and he is horrified at the idea of ever getting into trouble. (I seriously love his teacher) I quizzed him about songs, not eager to repeat my mortification of last year (although this year I’d know it doesn’t matter what your child does as no one looks at any child other than their own) He took pity on me, gave me a swift rendition of ‘Away in a Manger’ and then returned to his Lego, having no truck with even a moment’s more discussion about nativity plays. Still, it was one more rehearsal than I got last year.
For child 2, on the other hand, the nativity play might be the most exciting thing that has ever happened to her. She’s a dancing snowflake, and related this news to me as if she’d landed a starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster. (She has no lines but fortunately four year olds have no idea of the hierarchy of nativity plays) She’s practised a song about an angel that makes mistakes (I particularly like the running on the spot like a substandard 80s pop star accompanying the lines ‘running around, making mistakes’) another one (possibly the same one) about how angelic she is (the ‘DONT YOU AGREE?’ is always shouted and is about as far from angelic as it’s possible to be, and her own (and the other six snowflakes’) song about snowflakes drifting and getting caught on the wind. This is accompanied by much twirling and hovering, and a tremendously serious expression. Not only does she want to practise, she wants me to film it on my phone so she can watch it afterwards and admire her own twirling. I don’t think she trusts my assessment of her singing, which is just as well; I’m entirely blinded by her cuteness.
But none of this practising will matter if she doesn’t look like a snowflake. I can’t think why I’m making such a fuss over this; the teachers have managed to produce an entire nativity play incorporating sixty children acting, dancing AND singing. My only role in this is to produce the snowflake costume. My ineptitude over this one small task has been so great that two of the teachers have taken pity on me and offered to help. The shame of it. The costume was due last Thursday; naturally I began searching for it last Wednesday. And now we’re on our third. It has assumed an importance that if i were frank, I’d really have preferred it not to. I’m a grown woman; I manage classes full of teenagers every day; I am even trusted to manage people. One small snowflake costume should really be a cinch; if not I should be able to send the child to school with a pair of old white tights and a slightly grubby left-over-from-summer vest top, and sod the sparkles. And I wish I were that kind of person. Maybe next year.
My last ditch effort is a white fairy dress that Amazon were not delivering until today, thus securing my status as The Most Rubbish Mother in Reception. But this one is not only white but glittery, not only a dress but flary and perfect for snowflakey twirling. Most importantly, it’s my last resort. So when, to my horror, it turned up in the wrong size, I simply took a pair of scissors and cut off the skirt to wear with a vest top. After all, cut up or not, it’s better than being a slightly dirty snowflake.