The Final Curtain

Try as I might, and much to PF’s amusement, I have never managed to avoid shedding an emotional tear or ten when faced with a pint-sized line-up of singing pumpkins, wise men or flowers at primary school events. I’m a soppy so-and-so, and being reminded that my kids are growing up way too fast kicks me viciously in the lacrimals each and every time.

Needless to say, there is nothing delicate or feminine about an MM going into emotional melt-down. Unlike the delicate mums who roll their eyes towards the ceiling to subdue the solitary tear in each rimmelled eye, my face generally crumples up like a 2CV in a motorway pile-up. I then reach into my pocket for a tissue, realise that I used up the last one to clean my hands after I dripped diesel on my fingers at the petrol pump, and end up with a choice between my sleeve or a vintage shopping list.

Kleenex logo

Kleenex: my trusty sponsor for thirteen years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year I was proud to get away with red eyes and a large lump in my throat. Thirteen years of primary school for my children had flashed by in what felt like the blink of an eye, and before I knew what had hit me, I was in the playground for the last junior school concert I would attend for one of my offspring.

Wonder Woman had already set up residence in the front row with her groupies, and was impatiently drumming her perfect nails on her video recorder (which, needless to say, had both a fully charged battery and a memory card). I will miss seeing her and her immaculately groomed kids. For those of you who don’t know her, Wonder Woman is the misunderstood matriarch of the maternal mafia. She’s the one who lurks by the refreshments stand at the school fête to police the access to her organic carrot cake. When you battle up the hill to school on your battered old egg-beater of a bike, Wonder Woman is the one who overtakes you with a sadistic, self-satisfied smirk, comfortably perched on her electric broomstick bike as she glides up the hill like a sinister, modern-day version of Mary Poppins. And at the concert, Wonder Woman was the one who had attacked her kid with a pair of curling tongs, making her look like a crossbreed of Orphan Annie and a Crufts contestant.

A hybrid of Orphan Annie and a Crufts contestant.

As I can see you wondering, here’s a hybrid of Orphan Annie and a Crufts contestant, courtesy of Little My and Smelly Dog.

The show began. A member of staff started battering at her glockenspiel as if it had done her an injustice in an earlier life. The beaming music teacher gesticulated wildly in front of the class, and stabbed her finger energetically at Annie Cruft, who obligingly broke into a warbling, off-key rendition of a Polynesian lullaby.

It took me a while to spot Little My in the sea of costumed children. My daughter was hiding in the back row, swaying imperceptibly in her Hawaiian dancer costume. My throat tightened as I glumly realised that this moment was soon to be archived in the family records under “Primary”. A wave of emotion welled up in me, but it was nipped in the bud by the wonderful sight of a miniature Speedy Gonzales. He was singing half-heartedly in the second row, gazing into oblivion from the shade of his sombrero as he absent-mindedly ferreted in his nostril in search of an afternoon snack.

The show was fantastic  – except for one vahiné who ended up in tears when her safety-pin let her (and her grass skirt) down mid-tamuré, it all went smoothly. The children had come a long way since the infant school gigs where baby squirrels seized up in a panic attack, dropped their papier-mâché nuts and ran off screaming into the arms of embarrassed mummy squirrels in the back row.

Speedy Gonzales (film)

Now you know what Speedy gets up to under that hat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The spectators were fun viewing, too. A small child danced in a happy trance in the no-mans land of trailing cables and maracas between the pupils and the parental posse. An adult tutted, turned and stared malevolently at the kid who was kicking the back of his seat.  Beaming grandparents took photographs. A child loudly announced that he wanted to pee and stumbled his way along the row of seats with his embarrassed father, who tripped over the tripod of the man who was filming the show just when he’d made it through the jungle of legs.

As the cast lined up to a standing parental ovation, babies wailed and grandmothers wiped away proud tears. Speedy Gonzales wiped his finger on his trousers. My face tried to fold into maternal origami, and I swear I saw Wonder Woman rolling her mascara-ed eyes towards the ceiling to catch the tears. Annie Cruft waved enthusiastically to the audience with one hand and readjusted her knickers with the other as the curtain fell on my Primary parenting years. It was time for us to start a new chapter in life….. but only after one last slice of Wonder Woman’s organic carrot cake.

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51 thoughts on “The Final Curtain

  1. You mean the events weren’t over-long, heavy on schmaltz, with earnest themes, and a lack of alcohol? The best one I ever attended was my youngest’s penultimate one where the chipper director cut down on the time, the puke-inducing bits and made it much snazzier. Then he left and it was back to normal.

    One year, my (Irish) friend and I took along some wine in a water bottle and some peanuts which her youngest aged 3 then chucked over the audience in front. Went down well, that. 🙂 We were amazed at the disapproving (jealous) looks we got about the wine too, made us laugh and enjoy ourselves even more.

    Love the hybrid dog. Most effective! 🙂

    • We’ve always been lucky enough to get down-to-earth teachers so we avoided the pukesome bits you mention. I do like the idea of smuggling in wine – and peanuts are great, I’d have been showered in them gladly! We put red wine in a cranberry juice bottle when we lived in Florida – it was the only way to have a half-decent picnic in their obligatory picnic spots, where alcohol was forbidden and a ranger wandered around to check everyone was behaving.

      • Cool, I must tell PF that I have regular contact with viagra. On the other hand, not cool – am I becoming a WP outcast? Sniff. At leasthe Spam folder is the right place for a low-priced, ultra efficient rescue remedy…

      • I loved your post, I shed a tear at these events, although I tell Mrs Sensible the watering of the eyes is due to being allergic to the fur coat the fat woman next to me is wearing.

        I did wonder if you had a side line in spam… I now regularly check the box to make sure I haven’t missed one of your comments or sales promotions….:)

    • Thanks! (*MM does happy dance in kitchen because she’s relieved it didn’t flop* – *so to speak*). Please send me pictures when you go to your first infant school gigs so I can see an Italian Wonder Woman 🙂

  2. We weren’t put through all that when at school…..thank goodness!…apart from dancing round the maypole which was the sort of disaster you can imagine: Rehearsals ending up with one or two of the kids who were placed on the feet of the maypole to stop it falling over being bound to the ‘mast’ pirate fashion and the teacher in charge unwinding others like reeling cotton from a bobbin..

    I can still remember my horror when in later school life some mad dance teacher decided we should float round the hall like autumn leaves…so if i’d been faced with what your daughter was faced with I might have had a nervous breakdown.

    Your vivid post made me shudder at what I had escaped…

    • Oh, the maypole…. fond memories of being trussed up like chickens with the damned thing tilting over you… been there! Autumn leaves sounds more like my kind of thing – although it’d be more of a challenge to do the acorn-tuning-into-tree routine as far as my leg muscles are concerned.

  3. Ah the memories… I remember the last assembly of my youngest, on the last day of primary school… the end of an era (all three of my children went to the same school so I was a parent of the school for 16 odd years!) quite emotional when our family name was called out as one of the ones they were saying goodbye to forever! They also did a slide show of memories of the children leaving, there was a definite lump in my throat and a tear in my eye! 🙂
    Great post as ever MM, we had wonder woman at our school too by the way, always immaculately dressed, coiffed and manacured… sickening! love the pic of smelly dog, excellent! 😀

    • You could have done with a swig out of Sarah’s magic water bottle, I think. I can’t deal with over-emotional does, it’s not fair on those of us who have overactive tear glands 🙂 Our teachers didn’t say goodbye to the families who were leaving them. The headmistress sidled up to me and asked if she could keep me on her list of parents who are barmy enough to go along for rugby matches and school trips. Of course she could- any excuse to keep one foot in childhood 🙂

      • We were also “lucky” enough to be asked back to help at primary school events long after our kids had left which diluted the emotional wrench!! I’m afraid I’m in your over active tear gland brigade and have even known to be moved to tears by a few simple Christmas carols 😦 No hope for me then last Friday as we waved our daughter off on a 3 month exchange to Spain …. all the other distraught friends & relatives had nothing more than a watery film over their eyes – I had the crumpled 2CV face you so accurately described!!!!

        PS Pukesome is indeed another very descriptive word – will add it to the list!

      • Oh dear 😦 Goodbye’s are horrid; I asked PF to put me under anaesthetic when we moved house. Like zoos do for elephants – you know the style. Put me under, then hoist me out by helicopter and drop me in my new paddock. He didn’t, but an hour after leaving he’d wished he had, ‘cos I was still bawling… At least I know I’m not alone with my car crash face now. The moment you get used to you daughter being gone, she’ll be back again, so chill out and crab a cuppa 🙂

  4. You are a keen observer of humanity and are able to see the funny side of everything. And am I the only one who had to look up lacrimals – those little nose bones that make you cry? Great new word. Not sure I can work that into the next post or two, but I’ll try.

    • Gosh and golly, I’ve taught you a new word. Fancy that 🙂 I look forward to seeing your post with that one – could be fun. I love people-watching -it’s better than TV, and writing it down is even more fun.

      • You are right about people watching and writing. As for using “my” new word, I haven’t come up with anything yet. It’s a bit limiting. Need to get creative.

  5. Excellent post! I had to look up lacrimals too – my new piece of knowledge for the day. I’m not quite at the end of primary yet but I’m sure, when it comes, I’ll win the prize for the most snotty, blotchy, tear-stained unattractive face in the audience. Last year’s Christmas school play in Rome was very short, down-to-earth and there was plenty of wine afterwards – result!

    • Murky buckets 🙂 Please send a picture of your blotchy face so that we can compare with my car crash version. Down-to-earth Christmas play sounds interesting; did Mary shout “This is the last time I let you choose the maternity ward” at Joseph? Wine afterwards sounds fab. I’m going to rewind my life and bring my kids up in Italy!

  6. Broomstick! haha! I just love your writing style! Such rich vocabulary! I get emotional about my children, too, but I actually cry in private. I can’t cry in front of them. They need to remember who’s boss around here! LOL Good post!

    • Hi there Jenn, how are tricks? Glad you enjoyed it! WW’s bike really is just like a broomstick, no noise and she just whooshes past, up the hill, WITHOUT PEDALLING. Brrr. As for knowing who’s in charge, my kids know alright: Mummy’s hormones are in charge.

      • Lol too funny! What are “tricks”? This is the second time this week I’ve heard the term. Someone else from London asked me “how are tricks” and I was like “huh”? 🙂

      • 😀 Funny how we both speak the same language, but not the same language at the same time. I’m going to blog about this one day. “How are tricks”, or “how’s tricks”, means “How’s life?” Very British English. Use it to impress folks, you’ll get them wondering.

      • You should blog about it!! I’m going to start saying “How’s tricks?” to people in America lol. Only, in the states when one asks “how’s tricks” they may think you mean “Pimp Business”. Haha! (Tricks are prostitutes here. Lol)

      • OMMIGOD you are kidding! No wonder you asked what I meant… 🙂 So we won’t go into what rubber s and fags are in the two languages- I have never been so embarassed in my entire life 🙂

      • Lol Hahahahaha!! Yeah, I was confused. Lol I just asked my son “how are tricks?” and he looked at me funny and said, “You mean the cereal?” Lol you should definitely write a blog on the differences on English words. 😉

  7. great post as usual MM!!! so descriptive I can imagine being there myself and watching the whole goings on… Does Wonder Woman have one of those cars we in central London call “Chelsea Tractors”? I can just imagine her getting her kids into one.
    p.s. maybe WP does not recognize your new Gravatar? it thinks you are a troll or a spy or a double agent covertly entering your blog?

    • Cheers OAC. That’s great news- your virtual you can pass me a hanky, then. Funny you should mention that- she has a huge people carrier that’s always clean and o doubt has built in 100% natural air-freshener made by pygmies in the rain forest. WP seems to have stopped asking me to moderate my own comments now. Fingers crossed…

  8. Marvellous post, MM. That took me back a LOT of years. 🙂 These milestones are always emotional and now I’m going through it all over again, with Grandson#2 having finished primary school this summer and Grandson#3 having just two more years to go.

    • Thanks Miss P. Don’t tell me I’ll have to embarrass myself all over again as a Grandmother 🙂 I’m very honoured that you took the time to read my post, as I think you’re probably busy packing… I wont tell you to break a leg (although you’d be in the right place to do it) but you know what I mean….

  9. Ah yes, the last primary concert, the last canteen duty, the last high school speech night: it’s all a blur of tears (well, maybe not the canteen time). Thank goodness for photos, videos and waterproof mascara (well, I admit to two of those).

    • Next year I’ll be on the line for the first child to fly the nest. Any donations of waterproof mascara and packets of tissues will be gratefully received… Now I’m off to wonder which two you are talking about. I suspect it’s the photos and the mascara 😉

      • Photos and videos. 🙂 I try not to wear mascara when I know I shall be witness to human endeavour and general cuteness viz primary concerts, sports days (oh, they’re terrible; doesn’t even have to be my own children, they all try so valiantly), even the bloomin’ Olympics.

  10. Hi Joanna! I hope you don’t mind me writing here but I couldn’t see a separate e-mail address anywhere… in my last blog post I have used your description of the crumpled 2CV ( couldn’t resist it!) I have of course given you full credit and a link but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it there without asking you first. I do hope it’s fine but if not please just let me know and I’ll change it. Many thanks once again for all your wonderful & highly entertaining posts!!

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