I’ve seen a lot of school nativities in my time.
Usually, there are a whole host bunch of ridiculously cute small children wearing tinsel, tea towels and terrified faces acting out a vague interpretation of the Christmas story to an excitable sea of uber proud parents, grandparents and other assorted adults.
It’s usually lovely.
But throwing Sophie into that mix was quite nerve wracking. Sure I was very excited about the show, but what if something went wrong…?
I was delighted to get the time off work to go. My manager actually anticipated it asking me if I had one to go to. So I rushed out of work and made the trek across town desperately hoping I wouldn’t be late.
Sophie had been singing the songs with gusto at home for a good five weeks.
Initially she told us she was an angel and we were imagining white dresses halos and a pretty glamourous look.
We got a bit suspicious though when her favourite songs were We must go to Bethlehem and Look, there’s an angel. Surely angels wouldn’t be quite so startled to see one of their own?
Turned out she was a shepherd.
So tea towels after all then.
We saw Sophie coming in with her class to sit down and as soon as she saw us she shrunk back into the teacher, a coy grin plastered all over her face.
They’d done all the costuming. A deep blue cloak, manly headdress and a little sheep to clutch. We beamed with pride although there was that ridiculous feeling inside – what if she makes a mistake? Sure she wouldn’t.
Next to me her grandparents were so overwhelmingly excited. Pity we couldn’t really see her from our seats. Her lookalike best friend was wearing exactly the same costume and sitting next to her, constantly blocking our view. Occasionally she’d stand up for a quick second, shoot us a grin and an embarrassed wave and then bob down again.
Still we knew she’d be pumping out the showtunes, a veritable array of awesome children’s carols. Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of her face and she was so happy.
Narrators bumbled on and off, powering out their words with great enthusiasm and a very cute lack of flow and rhythm. That’s Reception for you.
My favourite character was the donkey. A child in a onesie with a girl in a blue dress and a balloon tummy following him round the stage. Classic.
Finally, it was Sophie’s big moment. The shepherd dance.
She bounded on and jumped her little heart out to the sound of Jump jump jump there’s an angel. It was amazing.
She was probably only on stage for twenty seconds or so but the feeling of parental pride was immense. So lovely. And she smashed it as well.
Afterwards she allowed herself the honour of waving frantically at us, briefly, before disappearing off with her teacher to get changed and return to 2017. The consummate professional.
And so, as we gathered up the tissues which had collected our tears of pride, we thought that was pretty fun.
Same time next year?
It’s a very strange irony but as I adjust – quite happily – to the lack of school in my daily life, Sophie is revelling in her first few days of pre-school.
For me, it’s been a real joy to take her along and experience those new times with her. It’s something that would have been simply impossible had I stayed put.
For her, it’s been a wide-eyed adventure into the unknown and one that apparently she is absolutely loving.
A couple of weeks ago, i decided that the best way for me to enjoy a Daddy day with Sophie and Harry would be to spend it on the beach.
Setting aside the fact the nearest beach was 60 miles away (ish), I packed lots of things, bundled the little ones into the car and headed off.
Looking out of the rain-spattered Windows as I joined the M56 out towards North Wales, I wondered if it was really such a good idea after all…
Coming away on holiday is an absolute treat. Such a privilege to take a step out of daily life and travel away, in our case to visit our very generous relatives who live near Innsbruck, Austria.
The process of leaving home though can be a little bit arduous, a fact that was hammered home to us by our overnight stay at the Premier Inn, Gatwick where the four of us were crammed into a family room of four beds and a cot.
It did not go well.