Saturday, 6 December 2014

The queue for haloes

Katy, then aged five, was getting dressed in her costume for the school Christmas play. In reception, most of the girls were making up the heavenly host of angels, and most of the boys were a fairly rowdy bunch of shepherds. Everyone wanted to be Mary, or Joseph, or (for some reason, that year) the Innkeeper, but no, the main characters were selected from the older classes. 

I remember clearly arriving at school and entering the classroom to find a scrum of harassed parents all struggling to shoehorn their excited children into their costumes. 

Teatowels abounded, as did satin, glitter and tinsel.  Katy's angel costume (Sainsbury's, £5.99; I am no seamstress) was on the desk and we were expected to get our little angels dressed for the last rehearsal before the Main Performance later that day. 

Katy was distracted by the classroom decorations and was more interested in pointing out her moose - or reindeer, or whatever - among the herd on the wall. A little boy next to her began to cry because his tea towel had a mysterious stain on it, and his mother was mortified. Someone else's wings had come un-velcroed and there was some stamping going on until Mummy could find them in the crush and stick them back on. Nobody noticed that they were now upside down. 

Katy attempted to put her white tights on over the top of her outdoor shoes and I was getting hot and bothered in my jacket and woolly hat. It was quite stressful. Things were said, and I know that you know what I mean. 

And then, all of a sudden, she turns around and there is my five year old girl in a white and gold angel costume, standing on tiptoe for a cuddle. Well, I had difficulty letting her go. 

One more hurdle - she had to fetch a halo from the teacher who was doling them out and she needed me to help her put it on. Katy has very silky, slippery hair, and so a headband with a lump of wire and tinsel attached was a bit of a balancing act. 

She sashayed off for her halo. Minutes later she returned with a small thundercloud where the halo should have been. And then it came:

(Accusingly) 'Mummy, how come I'm always last in the queue when they're giving out haloes?' 

There's one to write down and repeat in a wedding speech one day. My gorgeous little girl stood there  with a scowl and her halo all lopsided. She wanted one of the newer haloes; one that wasn't slightly battered from being fetched out every December for the last few years, but the shiny ones had already gone by the time she got to the front of the queue. 

Her halo was not what she wanted it to be. 

I think I was also at the back of the queue when they gave out haloes. I don't know anyone who was at the front, to be honest, though I suspect I know a few who were further up than I was. From where I'm standing, other people's haloes seem much more highly polished than mine.

Katy's five and I was impatient, frustrated and irritated; ready to shout at her (and indeed, probably would have done had we been at home and not in a sea of other, more rational, patient Mummies and Daddies). She was wriggly when I wanted her to be still. She was excited when I wanted her to be calm. She was happy and distracted and I was narked about having to get her into her white tights and then realised that they were on the wrong way round and the heels were in front. I snapped at her. 

She was an angel in the school play but her halo wasn't quite right. 

My halo is a bit battered too, Lord God. It droops quite often and I'm sure that it should shine a bit brighter than it does. But you love me anyway. 

She stood there, my little angel, looking disgruntled and disappointed and I pulled her into my arms for a hug and we cuddled for a long few minutes, right there in the middle of the busy hustle and bustle of pre-dress rehearsal preparations in the reception class at school. 

Two of us with less than perfect haloes. 


  1. Beautiful, Helen - thank you. F. xx

  2. So glad mine isn't the only one that's dented with with a bit of tinsel hanging loose...:)

    1. Hello, friend across the sea.... mine too!


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