It began with this:
“Mum! Mum! I’m Angel Number Three!” my daughter shouted as I entered the house.
“That’s great, Sweetheart,” I said as I threw my coat and handbag down onto the sofa.
“Miss Crawshaw told me not to worry because she understands what you’re like and that I can just borrow a costume from Class 3’s dressing up cupboard…”
“What do you mean ‘she understands what I’m like’?” I interrupted.
“Well, you know how you took me to school on an Insect Day on the first day back after Easter?”
I nodded as I grimly recalled the morning of the said ‘Inset Day’ when the elderly caretaker sympathetically looked at my daughter dressed up in her uniform all ready to learn before slowly raising his head up to me where his gaze fixed on mine while he slowly shook his head in disappointment. Had I not read the newsletter he’d asked. Had I not noticed the empty playground he wondered. ‘There was a newsletter?’ was my reply.
Forcing me out of that guilt filled memory, my daughter continued. “And you know how I was the only one in uniform during last year’s Children in Need day and Mrs Gilbert said that we would have hit our target of £500 if only you had managed to bring that damned £1 in?”
Again, I nodded.
“And remember that time you didn’t know it was Sports’ Day and you had to run home and get my…”
“All right! All right!” I yelled. “That’s enough Mum Bashing for one evening although Miss Crawshaw does have a point, I suppose. What are Class 3’s costumes like?”
“She ain’t wearing a borrowed costume!” came the dulcet tones of the husband cooking away in the kitchen.
Christ on a bike – now that would make for an interesting Nativity – rolling my eyes, I asked “When’s the Nativity?”
“Shiiooot,” I swore. “How long have you known about this?”
“Since last Wednesday,” was her reply.
“Why am I only hearing of this now?”
“It’s in the newsletter,”
“Where’s the newsletter?”
“In my bag,”
“And where is your bag?”
“At school on Sophie’s peg,” she tutted at this point to emphasise her outrage at my not understanding why her bag would be anywhere else but Sophie’s peg.
“Why Sophie’s peg?”
“We were pretending to be each other,”
Great. Fun game.
“Oh, and Mum…I’m not Angel Number Three. I’m Angel Number Two; I’m still pretending to be Sophie.”
Later that evening after my children had gone to bed (and after learning that Sophie’s mother had hand stitched her daughter’s angel costume), I logged onto the internet and ordered some angel wings and a halo and then paid extra for a swift delivery.
After digging out my daughter’s bridesmaid dress from the previous summer, we were good to go.
I ordered the Nativity tickets. Two for me and my husband and two for the In Laws.
“It’s the dress rehearsal today,” I was informed by Rita the over informed head of the PTA.
“I know, I know,” I lied. “I’m just waiting on the wings to arrive. They’re due today.”
“Don’t worry,” Rita assured me, her voice lulling me into a false sense of security. “I’ll make sure Daisy stands at the back of the stage so no one notices her in her uniform. If we take off her cardigan, the other kids might just think that Angel Number Three likes to wear white cotton T-Shirts whilst carrying out The Lord’s business.”
I wanted to punch Rita square in the face right there and then, but the tears of guilt welling up behind my eyes would have surely effected my blow.
Praise the Lord our Saviour – our angel wings arrived on Tuesday evening. It was made clear to me then that Christ was looking down upon us and saw fit that the Yodel driver sent to us from Devon was speedy and had an up to date version of Google maps.
Barely unable to contain her excitement, Daisy immediately squeezed herself into her bridesmaid dress, put on her wings and halo and marched up and down the house reciting her one line of ‘Baby Jesus is here! Let’s celebrate with a beer.’ ‘Let’s celebrate and cheer!’ I kept shouting after her but to no avail.
It had rained over night and the frost that had bitten at us during the previous morning had disappeared only to be replaced by mud, puddles and a slight bit of slush left over from the previous weekend’s pathetic attempt at snow. I had everything bagged up, labelled and ready. Rita was going to see me for the Mum I truly was: organised and with an impeccable taste in angel costumes. Yes, my slightly wonky and dented halo was going to shine bright this morning.
“Get your shoes on,” I said patiently to my children.
“Shoes on, please,” I repeated.
It was like I didn’t exist. I decided to give Daisy and her little brother, Jack another few seconds to make the right decision. Picking up my handbag, Daisy’s school bag, her coat, Jack’s bag, Jack’s coat, the bagged up bridesmaid dress and a third rucksack containing Daisy’s shoes for the Nativity, I tried again.
“Both of you. Shoes on, please.”
“You need to put your shoes on now!”
Both of them looked at the shouting clothes stand with blank faces and then continued to do what they were doing, which was absolutely bloody nothing.
“SHOES. ON. NOW!”
Bugger. The rapid projection of my voice caused me to drop three out of the four bags I had been holding but at least the munchkins were finally putting on their shoes and ten minutes later we were all packed up and in the car and ready to drive to school. Yes – ten minutes had passed because shoes were put on the wrong feet and I had to run upstairs at least three times to check that my hair straighteners were switched off and unplugged.
When we arrived at school, I found that, as usual, all of the parking spaces had gone and no way on earth was I going to park on a junction again after receiving a rather unfriendly and frankly threatening note stuck to my windscreen the previous week informing me that ‘in the future, I should park in a proper parking space.’ No, that was not happening again so I parked up the road a little further – just a minute’s walk from the school – and made sure I was away from all junctions and all houses with twitching curtains. My children climbed from the car.
“Can you hold your bags?” I asked.
“No, Mum,” came their helpful reply.
“Put your coats on then,”
I climbed out of the car and hung the bags from my arms, hooked the coats over them and lugged the bagged up bridesmaid dress from the back seat. The dress, that had been hanging on a coat hanger, slipped from the bag as I attempted to hook it around the third arm I wished I had. In slow motion, I watched as it fell onto the cold, wet, dirty pavement beneath my feet and at that moment, that very single moment, Rita pulled up just a few metres in front of me – on a sodding junction I might add – and looked on in disgust as I scooped up a now sopping wet bridesmaid dress.
“It’s from Marks and Spencer!” I called.
She couldn’t give two
fucks hoots as she ushered her children into the school away from mine.
By the time Thursday came along, I had lost two out my four Nativity tickets.
After searching high and low for them, I resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to create some counterfeit tickets using the colour photocopier at work and a pair of scissors.
It worked a treat so if you ever need to get out of the country fast and need a passport, I’m your gal.
Thursday afternoon came around and I was seated at my desk with a classroom full of Year 8 pupils when suddenly, the idle phone laid on my desk lit up and buzzed. Glancing at my screen, I could see the message.
I’m at the school, it read, I’ve got us some great seats.
“Nooooooo!” I yelled to my classroom of kids.
“What is it, Miss?”
“Oh God! Who’s died, Miss?”
“Miss! Do you need me to take over the lesson? I feel that I am ready to teach the class the difference between Quantum Physics and Metaphysics.”
“Liam, you’re in a French lesson.”
As it turned out, my Father-in-Law had turned up for the Nativity a day early and was currently sitting through the junior school’s version of the Birth of Christ rather than the infant’s version.
More worrying, however, was that he made it in to the school without a ticket. My undercover counterfeiting had all been for nothing.
Nativity D-Day. Lines had been learnt, songs had been sung and Daisy’s tummy, she informed me, was filled to the brim with wriggly worms and fluttering butterflies.
I left work early and left my Year 8 French class in the more than capable hands of Liam and made my way to Daisy’s school.
Waiting for me there was my husband, my In Laws and my boy, Jack. We took our seats and the show began.
Standing centre stage, the angels looked simply angelic and my girl looked beautiful and I could only stare on, beam in pride and pray to the little baby Jesus that she remembered not to say ‘let’s celebrate with a beer’. Jack, being two, is no good at sitting still for anything longer than seventeen seconds and I could hear him stirring at my side. I shushed him and he responded by blowing a raspberry in my direction. He then continued blowing them in all directions (aimed specifically, I noticed, at fit dads.) Our own fit dad noticed his son’s yobbish behaviour and handed him his phone with You Tube open and ready to go.
“No!” I mouthed. “What are you doing?”
“It’s on silent,” was his reply.
It wasn’t on silent.
And just as Mary and Joseph were lifting their miracle baby – The Son of God – to meet the five angels, the familiar theme tune of everyone’s favourite 80s film about ghosts rang out and filled the quiet hall.
“Who you gonna call?” Jack sang out.
Up on the stage, for all to see and hear, Joseph – Rita’s number one son – yelled out in his loudest and most theatrical voice…
It appeared that Rita and I shared one common interest: sons who seriously dig ‘Ghostbusters’. Although, I doubted that we would be talking about it over a coffee any time soon.
Merry Christmas one and all. Let’s celebrate with a beer.
Certainly not Daisy and definitely not Angel Number Three…