It was a big night for the Raging Bull, who performed for the first time on stage at her nursery’s Christmas show yesterday. The Raging Bull is well used to performances, but these are normally tantrums that could win her an Academy Award for her histrionics.
Our trio (my mother, the Chatterbox and I) packed into a small church at her nursery to hear the kids, all five and under, sing Christmas songs. When small children are involved in any performance, there are enough cameras and video recorders to film a Hollywood blockbuster. I looked around the auditorium and all I could see was an undulating mass of arms holding mechanical devices. I got a mini panic attack that I wouldn’t be able to operate my simple point-and-shoot digital camera and that I’d spoil my children’s precious memories forever. As the blurry picture above demonstrates, my fears were justified.
Despite being threatened with some sort of punishment if they waved to their proud parents, friends and family, some kids couldn’t resist screaming ‘Mommy’ and waving so frantically I was worried they might dislocate a shoulder. Other children yawned and looked bored, scratching at their heads and digging their hands into their trouser pockets. As the kids marched to the stage, I realized that most people had dressed their children in holiday attire for the special occasion. Being a slightly disorganized, harried mother, I didn’t even think about changing the Raging Bull out of the grubby clothes she’d been wearing all day. Hence, she looked more like a boy in her fleece and jeans, while the other girls were wearing an assortment of bows, tulle and velvet. At least the Raging Bull is an original, I thought, trying to reassure myself.
The whole performance was mercifully short, since it looked like some of the children might start losing the plot and commence bawling or hitting each other. Afterwards there were some cookies and yet another chance to see Santa (our third opportunity in three weeks). This Santa looked a little stressed between the crush of screaming children and parents, so I gave him a wide berth and headed straight to the food.
It was at this moment that the night started to fall apart as quickly as an ice cream melting in the sun. The Raging Bull lost all her previous composure and started to wail about getting cookies and gummy fruits. It wasn’t enough that she had stuffed her mouth full with two rice crispy treats, she wanted to hold as many sweets as her chubby, two-year-old paws would allow. I tried to hold my ground as a sensible parent for about three seconds and then forked over as many cookies as it would take to keep the blubbering child quiet. Although bribery works well for most dictators, the Raging Bull is harder to please – so my tactic didn’t work for long.
The walk to the car was a walk of humiliation. When your child is having a major meltdown in public, it feels as if you are under a spotlight. Even though I didn’t see anyone staring directly at me, I could feel their eyes. I was never so relieved to reach the car and strap the Bucking Bull into her seat. I went straight home and poured myself a vodka after bath and bedtime.
And that was the most peaceful part of the day, fa la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!