Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tinsel, Tinsel, Little Star

And so we gathered, in the close confines of the school hall, to witness the greatest story ever told. The scene was set, the assembled parents and grandparents browsed through their programmes for a sign. A sign that an infant within their own midst had started a journey. A journey into the world of school performances. Confirmation was right there in the cast listing.

Things 1 and 2 were angels, as graceful as four-year-olds can be in the company of miscued Magi, sniffing shepherds and a messenger that possessed a helium-conditioned voice, loud enough to perforate a donkey’s eardrums.

A constellation of stars danced in and out of the rehearsed choreography. This was due, in part, to some obvious discomfort felt by a couple of the heavenly bodies. It’s hard to maintain a predictable place in the firmament when your underwear requires more adjustment than Rafa Nadal’s in the moments before match point.

The Innkeepers revelled – perhaps a little too much - in turning Mary and Joseph away, but eventually they were accommodated in the middle of the set, where they received the son of God in a crib that was deftly manoeuvred into place by teacher. Cue those bearing gifts. Which immediately reminded me of a story told by Ken Robinson. When his son landed the role of a wise man in the school nativity, he duly approached Jesus and said, “ I bring gold.” The second wise man knelt and said, “I bring myrrh.” The last in the trio placed his parcel down and cried, “Frank sent this.”

What can I say? We were as proud as punch to watch our two little angels, for once wearing haloes that showed no signs of slipping. But then, that’s tinsel for you!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Birthday Girl!

SW is seven years old, today. Actually, celebrations began on Sunday, with a party of 12 friends at a local craft centre. They were booked in for a session of découpage, before tea at SW’s house. The calm of creative concentration before the storm of multi-coloured dogs, cats and dinosaurs that would follow. Then, as the still-sticky animals dried amongst the cupcakes, cookies and sandwiches, a kind of calm descended. Of course, it was short-lived. Someone needed the loo, and before you could say pass the parcel, there was a queue halfway down the stairs, that would rival Next on the first day of the post-Christmas sales. Luckily, SW’s dad took charge of crowd control, and there were no ‘incidents’.

But that was Sunday. Today it’s for real, and it got me thinking. About the world SW is getting to grips with. It’s as big and full of promise, possibilities and imperfections, as it ever was, yet I have every trust in her ability to embrace it, and I’ll tell you why. She has a quiet confidence, an uncommon generosity, and an empathetic attitude to others. She has a smile that, as her teacher put it, “lights up the room.” Pretty good for starters, eh?

I’m not just a proud grandfather, I’m a born optimist, too. And if my tribute sounds a little too sugary sweet, rest assured this optimist is also a realist. I know that for SW to have continued happiness in her life, she’ll need family, friends, and a helping of good fortune. Good fortune arrives when we least expect it, but she has a close, stable family. Friends, though, are a little like the découpage animals. They're not always easy to identify, unless you've had a hand in making them, yourself.

SW and her peers are on the same journey, discovering their own strengths and weaknesses and, in turn, their parents and grandparents will be thinking, if not saying, ‘what a little star!’ And, like me, they’ll all be right. I mean, is there a better age to be a star, than seven?