Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The Immaculate Deception
It was Christmas time and I had just come home after a rather hectic day at work when a rather indignant seven year-old met me at the door stating very emphatically that she was NOT going to be exploded by her teacher.
“Exploded? Do you mean exploited?” I asked taking a wild guess.
Julie continued, “She wants us to wear matching dresses and to say a poem. I don’t wear dresses and I’m not saying a poem with HER.” pointing accusingly to her twin sister.
Poor Jamie, she looked as bewildered as I felt. Somehow she was a major player in this drama only she had no idea why.
“My teacher said she would give me a zero if I don’t wear a dress and in the Christmas program but I’m NOT.” Julie said emphatically punching her hands deep into the pockets of her jeans, her long hair cascading down her back. She was a tomboy and would rather be boiled alive than forced to wear a dress.
Jamie quickly jumped in and explained that their teacher wanted them to wear matching dresses and together recite a poem in the school Christmas program. The program was to start in an about two hours but Julie had decided to protest what she considered to be the exploitation of twins.
As a single mom of two I had learned long ago to pick my battles and this was just not a battle worth fighting. I decided instead that it was an opportunity for my daughter to learn one of life’s biggest lessons. For every action there is a reaction. If Julie didn’t participate she would get a zero and that my friend is what we call consequences. I advised my daughter that it was definitely her choice whether to wear a dress or not but that she would have to go to the program and explain her position to her teacher. I then instructed each of the girls to get ready to leave for the school.
While the girls were getting ready I gathered what little wits and patience I had remaining. I was so tired that I wasn’t sure if I would have the energy to deal with Julie’s protest but decided I had to give it a try. I made a quick phone call to my mother to remind her of the program and to let her know we’d meet her at the school.
It wasn’t long before the girls emerged from their rooms ready to go. Jamie in her red and green Christmas dress her soft curls held in place by matching bows and Julie wearing a t-shirt and jeans with a comb stuffed in her back pocket. Her hair was a tangle of curls. We all got in the car and drove the three blocks to the school while Julie sat the backseat with her arms folded defiantly across her chest.
As soon as we got to the school the girls scattered to the music room. I quickly located my mother and we went into the auditorium to wait for the program to start. It felt good just to sit down and take in a deep breath. I decided not to tell my mother about Julie’s standoff with the music teacher afraid she might not agree with my decision to not fight this battle.
Soon the auditorium lights dimmed and the curtain opened. Jamie walked to the edge of the stage and recited her poem without a hitch. She looked so sweet and ladylike that it was hard to believe she was the identical twin of her slovenly sister. As soon as she exited the stage my mother asked, “Where is Julie? It would have been so cute if they had recited the poem together.”
The curtain opened again to the entire third grade class standing on bleachers ready to sing songs of the season. I scanned the faces looking for two just alike. I quickly found Jamie on the front row but no Julie. Of course I wasn’t the only one looking for her. My mother rather loudly asked, “Where’s Julie? Isn’t she in the program?”
“I’ll explain later.” I whispered.
I had resigned myself to the fact that Julie was indeed getting a zero in music and that no resolution had been reached between Julie and her teacher. Then the children finished a rousing song of “Here comes Santa Claus” and the curtains closed.
The auditorium suddenly darkened and a single spotlight began to shine on the center of the curtain. Slowly the curtain opened to a choir of children softly singing, “Away in a Manger”. The spotlight focused on Mary and Joseph looking adoringly at the Christ child. Mary was wearing a blue sheet that covered her hair and wrapped around her entire body. It was a second or two before I realized that due to an immaculate deception this angelic creature was no other than my tomboy daughter wearing a t-shirt and jeans beneath her robe with a comb stuffed in her pocket.