Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Plays at School

This one just tickled my funny bone. I thought you may enjoy it.

"Why isn't she Mary?" The perils of being a nativity play mum...


Many primary school age children don't know the story of the Nativity. But fear not - help is at hand. As reported in today's Times, new comic books, and indeed, an instant nativity play, can be downloaded to fill in the gaps.

But many children do still have nativity plays at their schools, and for some, parents as well as children, they are the highlight of the year. One mother I know still hugs herself at the thought of her son dressed as a snowflake, while another is put out that her school only has a Christmas concert, not a play.

My friend and colleague Jennifer Howze, editor of Alpha Mummy, is currently gearing up for her daughter's first school nativity play. And she's trying hard not to be a pushy nativity mum...

"It's happened. The note came from school saying my daughter needed a long-sleeve gold shirt, sparkly tights and some bits of tinsel for her hair. The nativity play had arrived, and she was going to be a star. With no lines. And I thought, Why isn't she a wise man or an angel? Why isn't she Mary? I had become THAT mum.

I would have let it drop. Except when my daughter and I talked over breakfast the next day, planning where we could find the tights and the bit of tinsel, another bit of information came to light. "The star is a very important part of the nativity play!" I said, in my best game-show host voice. "I'm not the main star," she replied, eating her toast. "That's Thomas. I'm another star."

Not THE star; A star. So she was not even the star that mutely waves over the wise men, but part of a star posse that stands around in the background, presumably making calls on their mobiles and ensuring the limo arrives.

She is, of course, perfectly happy being *another* star, along with her friend Frances. I was the one morphing into Gypsy Rose Lee's mother.

Which explains why I found myself in front of my daughter's teacher actually asking her, in as nonchalant a manner as I could muster, how they assigned the parts. And, erm, why didn't my daughter have any lines? She smiled sweetly. "Oh all the ones that take ballet classes are stars. We did that because they perform a dance in the play."

Oh. A dance. Well, that's pretty good. Especially considering how she loves to boogie around, pointing her toes and doing "floaty" arms.

So I calmed down. I chuckled to myself on the walk from the school gate - how silly, worrying that my daughter was somehow overlooked, her talents not appreciated, her star qualities relegated to "star" qualities. I vowed to put more faith in her teachers for recognising her abilities.

That night my daughter proudly told her father she was in the nativity play as a star. As she danced off across the sitting room, he turned to me and in a low voice said, "A star? Why isn't she Mary?"

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