I say Christmas, as they weren’t nativities. Both my children had their end of term Christmas plays last week, and though both go to C of E schools, neither really went the whole hog for the nativity. For me, as a non-believer (sorry), this was a good thing, but it amused me nonetheless. Big’s was undoubtedly the Christmas story, but focussed on the three kings (one of whom had a birthday the same day as a new baby – guess who?) and Small’s… Small’s was an inspired story of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Cinderella all going off to visit Red Riding Hood’s Granny, but being ambushed by no less than 10 break-dancing wolves (there were a lot of children needing a part), but who were saved by Granny and all her mates scooting back from bingo (picture 8 five-year-olds scooting into the hall – brilliant).
There is a Yiddish term, ‘kvell’. To those of you who don’t know it, it means to be ‘extraordinarily proud’. This is how I felt about my children last week, for very different reasons. For Big, my beautiful eldest girl, I was so proud that she had been given the lead part. We aren’t supposed to say this are we? we are supposed to self-deprecate these achievements, to say, ‘oh, well, it was probably her turn’, but oh, I was so pleased when she told me. She loves being on stage, she exudes confidence that smoothes that gap if she misses a cue, and you can tell she’s enjoying it. She had a blast that night and I was so happy to watch it, to say ‘yes, she was good wasn’t she? although your son was very good too…’ Deprecate, deflect…
And little Small. I was so proud he was able to turn up. For any other person, with any other child, you’d think that was a little harsh, but I hope you understand why I say this. At no point did anyone say it would be too loud or complicated for him, noone said it would be awkward, or that he wouldn’t last 45 minutes. He was included. All the nursery children played stars and they sat, or stood, at the front, opening and closing their hands on cue and, at one stage, walked up and sat on the stage. And Small was there too. Sometimes he didn’t sit, sometimes he threw himself back to Pam who was always there to catch him, soothe him, help him feel happy enough to sit up again. Sometimes the little boy next to him handed him a toy. Small didn’t stand the whole way through the song, he got bored half way through and sat down. But, He Stood. He stood well supported, but that boy stood. I’ll say it once more. He stood. He bore weight on those feet next to the other children and I cried. And when they walked to the stage, Small – heavily, heavily supported under the arms – walked those few steps to the stairs as well (and was then hoiked up – stairs are a way off just yet).
Without doubt my boy is disabled, and this is thrown up so much more when he is surrounded by neuro-typical kids who know the words, know the actions and wave to their parents. But Small was actively included, able to participate and I think enjoyed the experience. And I popped with pride seeing him do something every child should do – a rite of passage if you will – his Christmas play.