Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Cheer

It was Eve's first school Christmas concert this week. The Boy and I had taken the morning off and, video camera in hand, treked off to her school to watch her musical genius.

I know Eve has musical genius because for the last 4 weeks she has been practicing her Christmas songs. Loudly. Whenever she can.

Quick note to all teachers of almost three year olds, they cannot and will not be able to (for another year of so) sing the words "figgy pudding" so unless you want 40 parents giggling at whatever slightly rude words this phrase tends to sound like, ditch the second verse.

Being a stupidly expensive private nursery (although in HK they all are, but it still grates on me), we were welcomed by mince pies, juice and punch. I noted that the mother of the behaviourally challenged child and she of the really odd email had hit the punch. Then we were ushered into a room with the lilliput chairs whereupon we were told how hard all the children had been working on their songs.

Now, I can't recall being almost three but I am pretty sure that when faced with a paparazzi style group of 40 adults, all with cameras clicking and videos whirring, the only sensible reaction would be to panic, cry, gaze in fear and amazement - or all three. Which is what almost all of the 15 children in Eve's class did. There was absolutely NO singing at all. Cue more scary (sorry, encouraging) smiles from the parents and one parent actually got up and gave their little one a bit of a prod.

Half way through the first song, which was really only being sung by the teachers and parents, things started to get more interesting. One little girl, to her credit, threw herself into the challenge and started singing and dancing. One little boy took off his santa hat and went and sat on his Mum. Behaviourally challenged boy started grunting loudly. Another girl burst into very loud sobs. Eve stood, looked at us, smiled a bit and then went back to her previously mute and bemused status.

Nothing really changed on the next song, except that the kids had bells to ring so it was even more obvious that they were not actually moving. Jingle bells sung by the teachers and parents to resolutely silent bells.

It was hilarious. All us parents seemed to step into the enthusiasm vacuum of our children by overcompensating and behaving like, well, almost three year olds singing Christmas songs. Hand waving, manic smiles, clapping, even jingling the odd bell.

After about 15 minutes the performance was finished and off we all went after wondering at the Christmas craft that the children had done. As an aside, Eve told me that her reindeer looked sad because he had lost his Mummy. Ah, that will be what she did while I was away in the UK last week.

Merry Christmas!

Theology 101

This is the first Christmas where Eve has been old enough to start to grasp the Christmas story. As we go to church mostly every week, she has a pretty basic idea of concepts such as God, Jesus and prayers. She knows that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus' birthday, albeit with huge frustration that she won't actually get to open the baby Jesus window on her advent calendar for another 20 days.

One of the lesser known facts about her Mummy is that I have a degree in theology. I specialised in the Judeo-Christian tradition and can even read the New Testament in the original greek - well, maybe not now, but I managed to pass the relevant translation exam for my finals. Therefore, there are few theological concepts that I have not thought about, grappled with, and settled in my own mind.

Having an almost three year old throws new light on these. The big ones about the relationship between the God we pray to and Jesus are actually rather easy to explain. God wanted to visit us so he sent Jesus. Jesus now lives with God in heaven (along with great granddad Harry). Jesus was born as a baby and yes, he grew up and taught us lots of important things.

I am also finding that the exposure that the bible stories give to Eve on concepts such as sickness, people being nasty and death (why is it so many people kill children in biblical stories?!) are helpful in exposing her, in a gentle way, to some of the nasties in the world.

However, Eve managed to flumox me this week when we were in a taxi. "Mummy, did the Roman's kill Jesus?". This stumped me a bit. Well, firstly, which gospel are you using? They all have it in a slightly different way. Secondly, is the failure to stop something awful happening tantamount to supporting it? Finally, if ones looks into the political climate of when the gospels were written and the political as well as theological points they are trying to make then can we be sure anyway?

I ended up muttering "well, sort of" and pointing out something pink outside the cab to distract her.

For other such theological musings with children, check out this.