My daughter is making her First Communion on Saturday. I was a bit late looking for the dress—so an assistant informed me when I walked into a shop just before Easter. I thought I was time enough. Not so. According to the shop assistant I should have been in before Christmas. Apparently all the favourites (whatever that meant) were gone but before I could ask to see what was left little Missy spied a mannequin wearing her dress and set her heart on it. It needed a nip and a tuck which added to the price and though it was a tad more than what I intended to pay I did what any God-fearing, child-rearing, last mother would do. I paid up! And I made up my mind on the spot I wasn’t going to self-lacerate about it but of course we weren’t finished. There were shoes, head gear, gloves, bag and…wait for it…fake tan…thanks to a silly pop sock and another mother who had stopped sorting out her son to check out my daughter.

“Oh, my, she’s beautiful. Are you going to get her fake tan done?” “Humph?” I said. “I mean, look at the pop sock,” she said. So I stood with my mouth to my knees staring at the stupid pop sock the assistant had slipped on to Missy’s foot to try on a shoe. The colour of it compared to burnt ash. “She would be lovely with a bit of tan,” the mother continued, paying no heed to my disapproving, screwed up face. “You should get her sprayed.” I wanted to tell her my daughter wasn’t a piece of car panel but I didn’t. I was distracted by the price of the shoes. With everything totting up in my head as fast as the rolling reels of a slot machine I smiled kindly at the misguided mother and failed to engage in the conversation. The assistant was going to arrive at a smug sum and as a parent there wasn’t one thing I could do about it because communion attire doesn’t come cheap regardless whether you are a parent on a tight budget or whether you are a parent on Fantasia Island.

“What was your dress like Mummy?” Missy asked later as she dug into some ice-cream.”

“I have absolutely no idea, honey. I just know a girl that lived next door to my Granny allowed me to wear her dress on my Communion day.”

Missy stopped digging. “She let you wear her communion dress?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Wow.”  Missy’s eyes widened. “She was very kind to let you wear her dress,” she said.

“She was.” I said.

“How much money did you get?” Missy wanted to know.

“I don’t remember getting money but I remember getting ice-cream.”

Little Missy took another scoop and rubbed her chin. “Ice-cream is way better than money.” she said.

“I think so,” I said as I sat smiling at the memory of a little girl dressed in something borrowed and feeling like a princess on a boat from Warrenpoint to Omeath after her First Communion. She was jammed between her brothers and sisters and covered with a big blanket to protect her from sea-spray and cutting winds.  Needless to say, she didn’t get sprayed nor did she get a tan …a real one that is…but she did get ice-cream and if little Missy and her friends have as much fun as I had on my Communion Day they are guaranteed some great memories that unlike tan…will never fade. Let’s hope the sun shines on Saturday and everyone has a great day!