Tomorrow night is my children’s Christmas concert … an evening to sit back and beam teary-eyed with pride at your little cherubs dressed as a star/shepherd/tree/donkey/angel (delete as appropriate) … if you’re lucky enough to get one of the few unreserved seats that allow you to actually see the stage (the school governers, members of the PTA and sponsors quite rightly having the best seats reserved for them).
When my eldest started school, I quickly learnt that timing is crucial if you want a good seat. The first concert I went to, I felt quietly confident that I was being super-organised and arriving at the venue 30 minutes before the concert was due to start. To my utter disbelief, my arrival was met with a trailing snake of parents waiting for the doors to open. Joining the back, I decided that the next time, I would make sure that I arrived an hour beforehand. Ha!
The second concert arrived and arriving all of 60 minutes early … I was greeted once again with the long slithery snake.
‘You’ve got to come straight from school,’ whispered a kindly Mum standing in front of me, ‘if you want the best seats.’
‘But the concert doesn’t start ’till 6.30pm,’ I said exasperated.
But who am I to change the rules? So the third concert rolled in and that’s when I noticed. When the flood of children emerged through the school doors, hands were grasped tightly, quick goodbyes were uttered with tight smiles followed by a swift power walk to the car before roaring off in a cloud of fumes.
Naturally not wanting to miss out, I followed in hot pursuit. Pre-planning meant I had my children’s change of clothes in a bag and a packed picnic.
On arrival, I beamed as I was faced with an empty hallway and literally skipped through the double doors of the hall to hand pick one of the best seats … only to be faced with a sea of coats draped across chairs in a kaleidoscope of colours.
‘What’s the matter Mum?’ my eldest son asked looking slightly worried at my bulging eyes and the silent opening and closing of my mouth.
Disgruntled and despondent, I knew that I had to beat the best at their own game. Three years I had waited for a good seat. Three bloody years of watching my boys’ eyes dart around wildly at the start trying to find me somewhere in the daunting sea of faces before them, and never succeeding. Well, there would be no more sitting behind pillars or ending up with a stiff neck from craning at an awkward angle to catch a glimpse of my boys. Oh no.
So to last year’s concert. Days of careful planning left me feeling slightly smug as I dropped the boys off at school in the morning, giving a cheery ‘Morning’ to fellow parents.
At home I kept a watchful eye on the clock. 1.30pm … it was time.
I parked at the venue and loitered rather suspiciously as I watched the cleaners make final preparations to the hall. When the coast was clear, I grinned at my partner in crime (my then 6-month old son) and tiptoed into the hall, arms piled high with coats. I made a quick dash towards the seats … just as a young sound technician entered through the other door. I froze, the two of us locking eyes. I couldn’t back down now, my mission was almost complete. The sound technician’s head twitched … was he winking at me? Flattered, I smiled back, with raised eyebrows. Another jerk of the head towards the balcony. I turned slowly and to my horror, up on the balcony (thankfully with their backs to me) was the headmaster and deputy head.
In panic I glanced quickly at my new ally who mouthed the word ‘quick’. I flung the coats over the backs of the seats and without making a sound, ran out of the hall. And I kept running till I got to the car, my 6-month old delighting in the bumpy ride in his pushchair.
Once safely in the car, I let out a long breath as sweat trickled down my back. I’d done it, mission complete.
3.30pm, the boys and I meandered home, had a relaxing bite to eat, got changed, picked my husband up from work and made our way to the concert. We breezed in 10 minutes before it was due to start.
Very hot and bothered Mums chatted as they supped the last of their coffee.
‘I can’t believe the doors are locked,’ one very angry looking mum said. ‘We came straight up from school and we’ll end up with seats on the balcony.’
When the start of the concert was announced, we made our way to our front row seats to looks of disbelief and astonishment from the lucky few who nabbed some good seats a few rows behind us.
‘How on earth did they manage that?’ came the whispers.
Sitting back, I enjoyed every second of the concert and could have burst with pride seeing my two boys grinning back at me from the stage.
So, will I be as successful tomorrow? You bet I will!
Hwyl am y tro x