Thursday, 13 December 2012

A School Christmas Play

As I opened a bleary eye this morning to see that the numbers on the clock were telling me it was 8:10 - the time we would normally be up and dressed and having breakfast - I didn't panic too much. I remembered that the kids had been fiddling with the buttons on it yesterday and had probably changed the time. When I turned over in my lovely warm bed and saw that the clock on my radio also said 8:10 - then I panicked!

I managed to drag myself out of bed with the cold cup of coffee on the bedside cabinet seeming to say in a mocking tone - It's your own fault. You should have woken up when I was brought up to you by a faithful husband an hour ago.

Both little ones were still fast asleep.

The reason for their exhaustion and need to sleep was that last night was my little Addy's first school play - an evening performance taking place in our local community owned Festival Drayton Centre which meant a proper stage, tiered seating and an air of great importance. Personally I would have been happy with a makeshift stage and rows of tiny school chairs crammed too close together in a school hall but there was no denying the sense of occasion.

The play was called "Children of the World" and showcased how children all over the world celebrate Christmas. Addy was cast as Poland.

The costume requirement was a bit vague. If I had had the time, I would have googled the Polish National Dress, scoured charity shops for something suitable and even dusted off my sewing machine. Needless to say - I didn't. With what we had at home and big sister Taylor picking up a little waistcoat from Primark on a well timed shopping trip, we cobbled together the 'boy' interpretation of the costume.  Addy looked absolutely delightful but she was not overly impressed.

Neither was she overly impressed with the idea of rehearsals. I was taken to one side by her teacher to be told that she was refusing to join in. When I questioned Addy about it she said that she didn't want to be tripped up on stage. Trying to get inside the mind of a four year old I surmised that it must be quite overwhelming with the whole school involved in the production and lots of movement on and off stage. I reassured her. I told her how proud I'd be to watch her. I tried bribery. I played the Santa card - I bet Santa will leave you an extra special present under the tree if you join in. I waited to see what would happen at the next rehearsal.

She still didn't join in.

Although she was not actually taking part, she was watching and learning. She knew the dance routines. She knew the songs. She had one last chance to overcome her reluctance at the dress rehearsal before the actual performance. I wasn't holding my breath.

Last year, I turned up at the festive setting of Addy's nursery school to delight in my little angel singing Christmas songs with her tiny classmates. The reality was a grumpy Mini Grinch who sullenly refused to sing a single note. Last night, these memories flooded back as I sat in C13 awaiting the start of the show.

She was sat at the back (maybe deliberately) and looked very tiny surrounded by older children. After the introduction, Poland was the first country up on stage to share their Xmas traditions with an eager audience.

Addy awkwardly joined the back of the line of children representing Poland. Each child collected a glittery star from the props lady as they climbed the steps onto stage. Each child except Addy. As she held out her little hand, there were no more stars to hand to her. I guess that as she had not been joining in with the rehearsals, she was not counted and therefore not enough stars were made. I could have cried. I sensed her discomfort as she stood on the stage, starless. The other children launched themselves into their lines and song and dance as Addy stood apart from them fighting back tears. She lost the fight. She didn't just burst into tears - she exploded.

I felt powerless. From the second row back I was so close to my distraught little daughter... yet so far.

Thankfully, the headmaster did his best to sneak discreetly onto stage (he is not a small man!) and scooped her off. He calmed her down and gave her the job of assistant to prop lady.

As 'Poland' she was a disaster. As 'Assistant to Prop Lady' she was fantastic. I could see how much she loved being involved and handing out the various props to the next set of actors waiting for their moment in the spotlight. No more awkwardness and reluctance - just enthusiasm and efficiency.

She was persuaded to go up on stage for the finale - a heartwarming whole school rendition of a song called We are the Children of the World. For a brief moment she joined in with the singing and the actions and I was given a glimpse of the little star she could have been - but mostly her interest lay in what was going on offstage and behind the curtains.

As we made our way back home I asked her if she had enjoyed herself and she answered with a resounding yes. I suppose that is all that really matters.

A late night and much excitement with a little raw emotion thrown into the mix did result in the over sleeping next morning.

It was a rush to get to school but we made it just before the start of registration. I breathed a sigh of relief. Today of all days, an OFSTED official loitered in the classroom with his clipboard of doom. I gave Addy a quick kiss goodbye and was about to make my hasty retreat when the same look descended over her face as I had seen last night when she stood empty handed on stage with the star waving children of Poland. I willed her to hold it together, to sit calmly on the carpet, to wait for her name to be called and answer with a upbeat and 'ready for the day' - Yes, Mrs Buckley.

She didn't.

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