We’ve had two nativities to watch in the past week. Our eldest was a narrator and our youngest had her first school nativity as an angel. I don’t know what it is about watching your child in a nativity that is so emotional; my husband and I were both tearing up. Is it pride at how well they’re doing? Amazement at their confidence? Wonder at how much they’ve grown?
I wrote about the 7 Things to Love about a Nativity a couple of years ago when my eldest daughter first started school. It’s true, who doesn’t love a nativity? It definitely gets you in the festive spirit and it’s also an emotional rollercoaster: feeling proud and emotional too.
The bits I love best about nativities and school plays are the mishaps or the ad libs, or let’s be honest, the bits that go plain wrong! Here are my favourite unexpected moments from this year’s nativities:
- The Inn Keeper Needing the Toilet. At the crucial moment that the inn keeper had to go on stage to declare that there was “no room at the inn”, he decided that that was the point that he most needed the toilet. The teacher looked panicked, but handled it like a pro telling all the other kids that they would have to sing the previous song all over again. Cue all of us in the audience listening to the same song for the second time whilst the teacher frantically kept checking to see if the inn keeper had returned.
2. Narrators Fighting. Fairly early on in the performance two girls had to stand up and say some lines that they’d learnt off by heart. One of them thought that the other had said something wrong and so she actually leapt across the stage and clamped her hand across the other girl’s mouth! Both left the stage fighting and squabbling about who should have said what. There were tears and voices raised, the teachers had to intervene and separate them.
3. Joseph Bopping The Donkey on The Head. The climax of the nativity scene is where Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels and kings are all gathered around the manger to look at baby Jesus. Joseph had obviously got a bit bored by this point and the temptation of the donkey’s big, wobbly stuffed head got too much for him, so he bopped and punched it continually throughout the song that was being sung. The funny thing was that the donkey didn’t seem to mind at all!
4. The Shepherd Who Wanted his Mum. The kids all love performing for their families and inevitably they are all looking out for their mums and dads in the audience. Once shepherd could hardly contain his excitement and kept leaping up to wave and shout “Mum! Mum!”.
5. Mary Getting Bossy. Again, during a crucial scene around the manager, Mary became the star of the show. She started picking her nose and yawning, she was clearly unimpressed about having just given birth to baby Jesus. When a couple of shepherds starting fidgeting and moving around, she was quick to boss them about, telling them where and how they should sit.
6. The Soldier Who Got Stage Fright. At the beginning of the nativity featuring the younger children, there was a scene with some soldiers. Bless them, they were the first kids up on stage and it must have been quite daunting. One boy was so scared that instead of playing his part or speaking any of his lines, he simply turned around and showed his back to the audience and stood like that for the entire scene! A case of if I can’t see you, you can’t see me!
Once the plays were over you could see the teachers physically relax. It must be stressful trying to co-ordinate a bunch of 4, 5 and 6 year olds; to make sure they’re in the right place at the right time, that they’re saying their right lines and not fighting!
And whilst the performances are brilliant with so much effort being put in by the kids to know all their lines and to sing all the songs, for me, these little extras, these unexpected moments of innocence are the real gems that make the nativities a real joy to watch.
Have your children performed in a nativity this year? How did they get on?