A proud parent moment with some survival tips thrown in.

With my daughter Olivia now firmly ensconced into her schooling routine, this month saw the inevitable school nativity play. It was something I had been looking forward to; Olivia had participated in a Christmas ‘play’ at her pre-school, but that simply involved each individual class standing before the audience of expectant mums and dads and belting out a Christmas song or 2 as best they could. This year it was an actual nativity play – the story of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus – and Olivia had been given a part.

School nativity playGranted, she would only be a snowflake, but this was still a major deal. She had to learn a song and a dance routine and wear a special costume. This was to most definitely be a proud parent moment.

A few weeks beforehand, I received the letter informing me of her role and the outfit that I would need to provide. Thankfully, all Olivia needed was to be dressed in white. She already had a white top and leggings that would be suitable (I have a feeling that as she gets older, the costumes will get more elaborate and may even involve me making something for her. I am going to have to up my sewing and/or crafting skills accordingly) so without too much hassle and fuss, I packed up her ‘costume’ and made sure she took it to school ready for the dress rehearsal.

Then all of a sudden and almost before I knew it, it was show-time. The nativity was held twice, once for parents with younger children and the again for adults only. If this happens at your child’s school and you are able to go to both showings, then my first tip is for you:

Treat the first show almost like a dress rehearsal.

By this I mean, use the first show to find out where your child will be sitting / performing on stage. Of course, if your child has a fairly main part, it’s likely they’ll be on and off stage quite a bit so chances are your view of them wont be obscured. However, if your child is part of a group doing a dance routine (like Olivia this year), it’s useful to know where your child will be standing. If you sit at the wrong end of the stage you won’t see them at all.

I wasn’t able to go to the first show, but my husband did instead and told me where I needed to sit in order to see Olivia perform. It turned out she was on the the right edge of the stage so this information was very important.

Something else that I learnt was:

If you want a good seat, be prepared to queue for HOURS.

Olivia’s primary school opens its doors for its pupils at 8:55am. The school nativity started at ten:30am. I honestly didn’t think that parents would queue to get into the school hall straight after dropping their children off, but they do! Again, I was alerted to this by my husband so I hastily arranged for my mother-in-law to deposit William at pre-school and rushed to join the queue once Olivia had gone into her classroom. To my mind, queuing for more than an hour and a half to see a school nativity play is madness personified, but a mum’s gotta do what a mum’s gotta do. I wasn’t the first in the queue by any means. You might also want to take some snacks to help see you through.

Stand your ground against pushy parents.

Something that I’m beginning to realise is that school can be a bit of a battleground for pushy parents. Some seem to think they have a right to turn up later than everyone else, but still push shimmy their way slowly to the front of the queue. Others whisper non-truths designed to give themselves an advantage (I overheard a couple of parents behind me in the school nativity queue describing how ‘the PTA have reserved the first 3 row of seats so all parents have to sit behind them’ when in fact, it was complete and utter poppycock). Meanwhile, others may be more blatant and simply push you out of the way to get what they perceive to be ‘the golden seat’. Sharpen your elbows, close your ears, look them square in the eye and stand your ground against these parents.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a better seat… if there’s one available.

Once I’d entered the school hall I grabbed a good seat in to the right of the stage in the second row. I had a great view of the stage, mainly because no-one was sitting right in front of me, but was aware that another parent may eventually come along and obscure my view. I hadn’t taken the front row seat because a parent’s coat was on it and I thought a companion might be turning up. After a while though, I decided to stop being meek and shy. I asked if anyone would be sitting in the front row seat and… success! The seat wasn’t reserved for anyone in particular so I grabbed it before anyone else had the chance to.

It’s lovely to take photographs, but don’t miss the action!

While photographs are lovely to look back on and remember these special moments, there’s no substitute for watching the action unfold before your eyes. If you spend the whole time photographing or videoing the school nativity, you might miss some special moments that you would have otherwise treasured forever. Also, don’t forget that your child wants to see you beaming with pride and not half hidden by a camera – the school nativity is just as special a moment for them as it is for you.

What are your tips for getting through a school nativity play?