Thank God it's Friday

9th December 2005 at 00:00
Monday This is it then, the week of the nativity play. Racks of costumes fill each classroom, festooned with royal robes, animal masks, national costumes from around the world and, of course, the ubiquitous checked tea towels. We rehearse all afternoon, but still the children do not seem to remember the words of the songs. Joseph has started a small but vigorous hate campaign against one of the Wise Men and Mary spends much of the afternoon in tears.

tuesday Today is the dress rehearsal. The hall is already full of parents armed with video cameras, these being banned from full performances. I wait in the corridor with a fidgety ox, a dove who is finding her white tights unbearably itchy and a reluctant donkey. Cues are missed, the CD player fails to function at the required time and the Star falls off the chair behind Mary and Joseph.

wednesday First real performance today. The sturdy young snowflake from Year 2 charged with opening the narration steps boldly onto the stage, flings open his arms and shouts, "Ladies and gentlemen... I want my mummy!"

His mummy, a very embarrassed chair of governors, removes him from the stage and he watches the rest of the play from the safety of her lap while a hastily promoted angel takes his place.

thursday All is going well today until a fight breaks out between two of the shepherds over possession of a small fluffy sheep. Black-clad figures swoop out of the darkness and separate the offenders, but somehow the atmosphere of peace and awe is never fully recovered. Joseph refuses to accept the gift of myrrh from his arch enemy, the Wise Man, and the innkeeper welcomes the weary travellers rather too warmly, offering them the best room in his hotel.

friday Last performance. When the baby Jesus is whipped out from under Mary's chair, a mother is heard to say that she wishes it was always so simple. As the strains of "Away in a Manger" fill the hall, I look at those children of many nationalities and faiths, united by the Christmas message, and feel grateful for the school nativity play.

Rita Pike is a Year 6 teacher in Liverpool. If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email friday@ tes.co.uk. We pay for every article we publish

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