Christmas excitement is mounting. But today hasn’t got off to a good start. To begin with, when I arrive at 7:15am, Rose is still asleep. When she wakes up, she’s not amused.
“Where’s Mummy?” she demands.
I explained that Mummy is teaching her other children at school.
Life isn’t easy nowadays for young couples, juggling jobs and children. And that’s why they need the “granny army” as one friend of mine puts it. So every time I feel rather tired, I remind myself that we are doing a good thing. At least I hope so.
But there are some things that we are hopeless at – and I’m not talking nappies here. It’s the remote control for the television that really gets me. At some point in my life, when I wasn’t looking, the powers that be must have decided that a simple on/off switch isn’t good enough. In order to put on children’s television after breakfast – an essential tactic in order to dress them without protest – I have to perform a complicated manoeuvre involving two handsets.
On this particular day, both have mysteriously gone missing. Oh dear. Even three-year-old Rose can’t find them. Things must be bad.
So instead, we practise for the nativity play. Apparently my granddaughter’s nursery year are all playing the role of “children who cannot sleep”. We know all about that in this house!
The big day arrives. Luckily it’s on one of my daughter’s non-working days so we all go together.
Usually, my retired husband objects if I drag him away from his books and music. But on this occasion, he is very keen to go. That’s because this time last year, one of the shepherd’s in the church playgroup nativity play took a fancy to Rose’s angel wand. My granddaughter wasn’t keen on sharing and this led to an on-stage “friendly” tussle! My childless husband thought this was a highlight of the year and has been dining out on it ever since.
Oh no, Rose can’t see us
“I wonder what she’ll get up to this year,” he whispers as they all come filing in to the hall, dressed in dressing gowns and clutching teddy bears. Little Rose is looking around the audience in every direction except ours.
“She can’t see us!” says my daughter panicking.
We start to wave madly – making complete idiots of ourselves – and at last she spots us mid-tune. Her little face registers relief and I feel all mushy inside. It’s a big thing for her to stand up in front of so many people. And it’s also a rite of passage for my daughter to see her little one in her first singing role even if she is making up some of the words…
My mind shoots back 30 odd years to when my daughter was an angel dressed in a chopped up pillowcase and tinsel. Where have the years gone? How could my life have changed so much in unexpected ways?
Meanwhile little George is wriggling madly on my lap. “Give him a snack,” suggests my daughter, passing me a packet of carrot rice cakes. But he’s far more interested in my house keys which buys us some quiet time.
We reach the end of the concert without any bashing of shepherds or other forms of GBH. In fact, Rose seems quite subdued.
“Do you think she’s alright,” whispers my daughter as we clap.
“Absolutely fine,” I reply reassuringly. “She’s probably in awe of the bigger girls in the years above.” Indeed, Rose is looking at them admiringly, especially the seven-year-old Virgin Mary.
Rose makes an announcement
Rose soon gets back to her usual self when we arrive home for tea. The handsets are still missing but it doesn’t matter because my granddaughter wants to play dressing up. “I’m Mary,” she announces strutting around the sitting room, in a rather accentuated waddle. “Look! I’ve got a baby in my tummy.”
My daughter looks at me. Over to you, Mum, says her face.
“Actually Rose, it’s not quite like that,” I say. “You can have a baby when you’re a big girl.”
“But I want one NOW,” she wails.
“When do they do the birds and the bees bit at school nowadays?” hisses my husband.
I don’t know. But it strikes me that it might be a perfect National Curriculum link with the nativity season. Then luckily the subject is changed when George toddles out from behind the Christmas tree clutching the two missing television handsets.
“Those naughty Christmas elves must have hidden them,” declares Rose solemnly.
Peace is restored. Instantly, my granddaughter forgets all about her baby and settles down happily to an episode of Ben and Holly.
But my brain is whizzing round. Maybe some of this might make a perfect script for next year’s nativity…