the state of things

 

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas #3

by Douglas Lindsay - 09:01 on 11 December 2008

And so it begins...

We have three concerts to attend in the next three school days. This is the time of year when you wish you had a job that worked shifts, or took you to Afghanistan at short notice, or to an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Just something that would allow you to be unavoidably detained when the kids are clamouring for you to pitch up at the school, full of enthusiasm and excitement about seeing them on stage.

The trouble is that my kids know I sit at home writing books. And doing stuff. Stuff that can easily be put down in order to go and watch them perform. I’m still being reminded of the morning last year when I just plain forgot to hang around school to watch One of Two sing something with her wee chums. While at the time I may have been thinking that I’d rather swim in a shark-infested swimming pool smeared with the blood of a hundred lambs than go and watch a group of kids warbling who knows what, I did on the morning actually intend to go, but just forgot, possibly because I’m turning into this sad, old, dribbling fool. Nevertheless, One of Two has no sympathy for dribbling fools, and the opprobrium has been heaped upon me ever since. There’s no escape.

Today Two of Two is Third Tree From The Left in The Snow Queen. Now, I’m not as completely misanthropic towards children performing on stage as the above might sound. For example, I’m quite happy to watch my own kid deliver his one line. That doesn’t seem to be above and beyond the call of the Dutiful Parent. It’s having to sit and watch everyone else’s kid for an hour and a half that’s the problem. I may sound callous and mean, but surely we’re all the same. There may be the odd about-to-be-beatified parent, who angelically appreciates children for who they are and loves their enthusiasm and all their little foibles - you know, they’re the same parents whose kids are always immaculately dressed, who neatly put their things away after school, and who get extra lessons in violin, classical guitar, judo, chess, Spanish, bridge and 17th century French literature - yet the logic is clear.

Ask yourself this: would you go and watch a bunch of eight year-olds stutter through three hours of the Snow Queen if your own kid wasn’t there?

After yesterday’s dress rehearsal they have worryingly brought today’s performance forward by fifteen minutes. Presumably this is to squeeze the whole thing in before the end of school. They disseminated this information by telling 60 eight year-olds and expecting them to pass the information on to their parents. Two of Two gave us about eight different versions of the news, the new start time randomly distributed between 12.30 and 3.45. Parents are likely to be pitching up throughout the event. Pity the poor buggers who arrive fifteen minutes late to discover that their kid has put in a bravura performance as Fourth Snowflake From The Right in Scene 1, but their work is now done and they are kicking back in the dressing room, drinking beer and eating doughnuts.

Tomorrow One of Two is singing, on Monday One of Two is playing the piano. The Hell continues. Here’s the Survival Guide to getting through it:

1. Switch off. Using ancient techniques from the east, immerse yourself in another place and time so that the stage is no longer in front of you.
2. Clap when everyone else does.
3. Don’t fall asleep in case you start snoring or drooling on your chest.
4. Remember to leave at the same time as the rest of the audience.
5. When your kid asks a question about the show, reply with the line, “Oh yeah, that was brilliant too...”

It’s almost Christmas. It’ll be soon be over.


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