First (and last) nativity!
It was Roo’s first nativity play this week at preschool. I had been looking forward to it for weeks and the extended family were making the effort to come along and see her.
Somehow what should have been a joyous occasion turned into two nights of complete stress which even lead to Roo crying and refusing to perform her part on night two.
When I was a kid, my nativity play took place in the afternoon. It was part of my school day and was a short story usually involving angels, kings and a donkey or two. So would someone try and justify and explain to me why Roo’s nativity play took place at 6:15pm for over an hour for two nights, was a complicated story of The night before Christmas followed by six full length carols!
I think it was incredibly insensitive of the school for the children who are aged between three and four years to be expected, in some cases, to spend ten hours at school, go home for twenty minutes and come back bright eyed bushy tailed and co-operative? I don’t even think Mary Poppins could have convinced me that this was a good idea.
On the first my mum had to pick Roo up early in order for her to come home and have a bit of quiet time before the play. When I got home she was washed and in her new pyjamas, as she was the girl who is asleep when Santa comes.
Getting in the car and going out was no problem, but on arriving at school she was upset to be back again so soon and bewildered at walking into a room full of gawping adults. The play started late and the children were fidgety. The sugar plum fairies all refused to dance at the right moment and six of the eight reindeer were more interested in the free cookies for the interval than pulling Santa’s sleigh!
Santa himself looked petrified with stage fright and when asked to sing his song on his own he rushed to hide behind his mum, who like us hadn’t been given a seat to sit on because apparently there weren’t enough seats?!
At the interval, to my horror, the children were fuelled with juice, and either a cookie or a jam tart – perfect for bedtime…not. My mum sensed my stress at the general organised chaos.
Big mistake in breaking for an interval - attempting to gather 28 over tired, energised and now slightly unruly toddlers into a group for carol singing got messy. Even the teachers struggled to retain composure as they herded the bedraggled children to the front.
By this time no one wanted to stand in the line, the kids wanted to be with their respective parents and snuggle quietly. How on earth could they be expected to sing all the verses of Frosty the Snowman…not even I know those!
Roo started to cry and get fidgety – she knows 7pm is usually brings a quiet bed time story, so she couldn’t work out why was she here at school in her pyjamas singing. The confused face said it all.
Six carols later we are finished. Other parents made a visible dash for the door to escape car park logistics and to get their little ones home. Thanks to the sugary snack and the boisterous running around, I was now dragging across the car park a screaming three year old who didn’t understand the play had finished. She thought it was still school time.
The end result was it took me 15 minutes to secure her in her car seat; she fell asleep on the way home she cried that much and was subsequently exhausted the next morning.
On the Wednesday night we had the whole palaver again and it broke my heart to hear her say to me, “Mummy, I’m so tired I don’t want to do my play.”
On reflection, the choice of the preschool to hold the play in the evening seemed to be because they could sell more tickets this way as the maximum number of parents would be available to come. Sorry, but as a parent, the Christmas nativity isn’t about you making money. It should be a fun experience for the children not one they dread doing or are too tired to understand.
Next year I’m hoping that her big school will do what I always remember as the norm and perform a traditional nativity at a sensible time.