The Norman Transcript

December 22, 2013

The immaculate deception

By Dani Ferguson Phillips
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — It was Christmas time and I had just come home after a rather hectic day at work when a rather indignant 7-year-old met me at the door, emphatically stating that she was NOT going to be exploded by her teacher.

“Exploded? Do you mean exploited?” I asked, venturing 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,” she said while pointing an accusing finger toward her twin sister, Jamie, who looked as bewildered as I felt. Somehow, she was now 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 in the Christmas program, but I’m NOT” Julie said, punching her hands deep into the pockets of her jeans.  

Jamie quickly explained that their teacher wanted them to wear matching dresses and together recite a poem in the school Christmas program, but Julie had decided to protest what she considered to be the exploitation of twins.

As a single mother of two, I had learned long ago to pick my battles. For every action, there is a reaction. If Julie didn’t participate, she would get a zero, and that is what we call consequences.

So I gathered what little wits and patience I had remaining while the girls dressed for the program. When they emerged from their rooms, Jamie was wearing her Christmas dress, her soft curls held in place by matching bows, followed by Julie in a T-shirt and jeans.

Quickly we drove the three blocks to school with Julie in the backseat, her arms folded defiantly across her chest. As soon as we got to the school, the girls scattered to the music room. I took a deep breath and walked to the auditorium to wait for the program to start.

Soon the lights dimmed and Jamie walked to the edge of the stage and recited her poem. She looked so sweet and ladylike that it was hard to believe she was the identical twin of her slovenly sister.

The curtain opened to the entire third-grade class standing on bleachers singing songs of the season. I scanned the faces looking for two alike. I quickly found Jamie on the front row, but no Julie.

The auditorium darkened once again, and a single spotlight shone on center stage. The curtain opened once more to children softly singing, “Away in a Manger.”

The spotlight focused on Mary and Joseph as they looked adoringly at the Christ child. Mary was wearing a blue sheet that covered her hair and draped 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 disheveled tomboy.

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