Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Back in the day when the Red-Head was only three, I bought theatre tickets for her 6 year old sister and me to see High School Musical. Although a Disney show that catalogues a spectrum of teenage angst, it is a phenomenon amongst the under 10’s. In the months since my ticket purchase however, the Red-Head, especially since starting school, has emerged from toddler into little girl and at just four, is as potty over Troy – the male lead, as her big sister. Consequently I sat in the staffroom on Monday morning and wondered what I would tell her when her sister and I put on our ‘theatre clothes’ and left her at home. There was no way that an excited 6 year old would be able to contain herself and not spill the beans about our outing and the idea of the Red-Head’s little face, all hurt and disappointed and asking “Why aren’t you taking me?”, was just too much, so immediately when I returned home, I rang the Theatre Royal and asked if by some slim chance, there were any seats available as close as possible to the ones I already had.
“We have one seat two rows away”, was the reply. It was shockingly expensive, but I pulled out the plastic and bought it anyway, trying to kid myself that although a Disney musical, it was nevertheless going to the theatre and thus, a cultural experience.
The 6 year old was not immediately best pleased that her baby sister had muscled her way in on ‘our night’ out, but explaining how hurt and left out she’d be if it were her, the guilt trip had its desired effect and as soon as we got home from school, the two of them ran upstairs to put on the their best dresses, leaving me to cook tea for the other three.
Hubby had been in work since 5 am, so I did feel a smidgen of guilt myself that I wasn’t there to fill his belly with hot food on his return – I’m nothing if not traditional, but I soon assuaged this guilt by hand rolling around 36 meatballs, browning them off and then cooking up a delicious tomato and basil sauce. When the thirteen year old came home from school I gave her explicit instructions on how to cook pasta al dente and to make sure that she left plenty for her father. She was most indignant, “Gee mum, you make such a big deal about everything. Cooking pasta is hardly rocket science”. I was about to embark on the usual “Now look here young lady” lecture but today, I honestly couldn’t be bothered, and left her in the kitchen complaining loudly something about child labour.
Running upstairs, I threw on a smart dress, ran a brush through my hair and ran down the stairs again, grabbing two little girls in either hand as I ran out, calling behind me, “Be sensible. Dad will be home soon”. Just as I was getting into the car my neighbour walked over carrying several packages and waving for my attention. Oh no! What had she been buying now? Not my neighbour you understand, that would be none of my business.
“For Pia”, said my neighbour, confirming my fears. E-baying is Pia’s new found hobby causing me much alarm as day after day the post-man arrives laden with more and more parcels. I’m not too sure when these things catch on in Norway but it seems to me that the craze that every kid craves only makes its way up to Scandinavia about five years after the rest of Europe, which might explain why she is Harry Potter, Pokemon and Lord of the Rings mad. It begs the question, who is the idiot though because Father Christmas bought all that merchandising for my son at full price; Pia on the other hand is getting most of it for a fraction of the price, lovingly accepting another teenagers castoffs.
Leaving the girls for a second, I rang back into the house to have a word with Pia; she looked bewildered that I should be so concerned. “But it is a bargain!” she protested, tearing open the package and waving her new i-pod Touch at me.
“Bargain or not, there is no need to wantonly waste your money on all manner of stuff. You are abusing your internet connection. Your time would be better spent studying perhaps?”
“I have plenty of money”, she replied defiantly, opening the front door to allow her boyfriend in.
“I’m happy for you”, I replied through a tight jaw, “but the facts are that Christmas is only weeks away and surely it would be better if you saved a little?”
“My father will send me more money by then”. Keep calm Alice.
“We’ll discuss this later, or, just as I worried regarding Jamie, here”, I waved at her boyfriend, “I’ll email your father for his opinion”.
And as I turned to leave, a teenager, for the second time that day, wondered loudly why I made such a big deal about everything.
We took our seats in the auditorium; I forsook the third seat and pulled the Red-Head onto my lap. The audience were wild and the atmosphere electric. The show was not my thing, imagine Sandy and Danny from Grease as Christian virgins with Paris Hilton thrown in for trash appeal and you have it in a nutshell, but when the curtain fell for the last time and the applause finally died down, my Red-Head turned to me and with big, blue eyes sparkling with wonder and might, said with great Shakespearian gravitas, “Oh mummy, I lov├ęd all of it”.
Once home, Hubby helped me carry two sleeping beauties from the car into bed. “How was your dinner?” I whispered.
“Under-cooked. I know she’s struggling with Italian Alice, but I had to point out al dente does not mean like porcelain”.


Kit said...

Thanks for the Grease analogy - it conveyed it all to me and now I no longer have to wonder if we should get it for the girls. Of course we should, they would love it as much as yours, but we're hoping the Mamma mia kick will carry on. At least we enjoy it too on the 500th listening!

Alice Band said...

Mama Mia alerady on the 6 year old's Christmas list!

Anonymous said...

My boys have had no interest in this phenomenon - perhaps they are too old?

Sally said...

I loved that. The thought of the porcelain pasta made me giggle. Earlier in the summer Hubby and I had rather a lot of "fostering meetings" to go to - because if we had admitted to Tinkerbell Mushroom that we were going out, she would throw a wobbly..... She didn't cotton on that the rate of fostering meetings had grown....

Eloise said...

Your whole post made me giggle, Alice! Glad you survived the show and that your husband survived his porcelain noodles!

Jen Ballantyne said...

Oh Alice, I'm still giggling, you always make me laugh with your posts, you really are very talented and that Sandy and Danny analogy just cracked me up, you are good for the soul Alice, definitely. Take care.

Mary Alice said...

She will always remember that night with wonder..regardless of whether or not it was a class act. I took my girls to see a broadway production of Chicago. Their eyes were sparkling and their mouths practically hung open watching all the activity on the stage and "all that jazz"

Alice Band said...

Chicago is one of my absolute faves!