I worked this out earlier, and between the three children I have seen (so far) 19 separate versions of the traditional nativity play. You know, Mary, angel, donkey, shepherd's, kings/wise men, baby. There's a level of tolerance relating to how many times I can remain relatively sane sitting through the whole thing, and to be perfectly honest, I reached that number a couple of years ago.
Surely I can't be the only parent who attends this (alleged) highlight of the school calendar experiencing not the utter joy and frenzied excitement that we seem expected to feel at the opportunity to see our offspring perform, but more a weary resignation to the fact that there are few legitimate reasons to escape the situation, and just a teeny tiny amount of fear that I might fall asleep and be elbowed back into consciousness by a disapproving parent seated next to me when I begin to snore. Or dribble. Or both.
So there I sit, along with all the other parents ~ each of us squished onto chairs made to suit child sized bottoms. The rule seems to be that every tiny chair must be positioned immediately next to one another, so you are bound to be within sneezing distance of at least two red~nosed umbrella~clutching individuals (one of whom will be accompanied by an infant who would much rather be elsewhere). This close proximity also provides you the opportunity to do that cinema thing of squeezing past people to get to a space while trying extremely hard to maintain appropriate respect of everyone's personal space (impossible to do, by the way).
Sometimes I have the chance to hear the line or two my child has been allocated from the story, as if I haven't heard it a hundred times already this week at home. Other times I am there to sneak a wave or two from my progeny who sits amongst the other line~less children who pretend they only actually wanted to do the singing bit anyway, thank you very much.
In case anyone is smelling sour grapes while reading this, I'd like to point out that Petal was Mary this advent, and given the choice I would still rather have been at home ignoring the phone while fighting with wrapping paper and sticky tape. Unfortunately attendance is pretty much mandatory, and while I passionately want Petal to know that I value her every independent thought, I do not necessarily equate good parenting with the chance to hear her say 'But I am with child, and our journey here was very long'.*
*and I am very aware that when she is a teenager I may still hope that she takes the time to indulge in a little independent thought, but certainly not wanting to hear the sentence 'I am with child'.