December 23, 2006

Christmas Pageant Politics

Jessica may play Mary in our church's Christmas pageant this year.

We're new in the very small church, and the father who is producing the pageant already had a girl in mind for Mary. The pageant will be modest, and last week we sat in the pews with other kids and parents as he assigned the parts. Eventually he said, “And that leaves Megan to play the part of Mary.”

“I want to be Mary,” called Jessica.

“We should probably have Megan be Mary,” he said. “You can be an angel. Angels get to wear the wings.”

“I want to be Mary,” said Jessica with a winning smile.

He sized up Jessica, a head shorter and visibly younger than Megan. “Well, Megan can read,” he replied.

“I can read,” piped Jessica.

“Megan's already taken some acting lessons,” he said, playing his trump. “Megan should really be Mary.”

Our trained instinct as parents is to teach our children respect and politeness: let others go first, share what you have, defer to adults.

But at some point, a deeper instinct kicks in, and we start to look out for our own. Perhaps the assumption about Jessica's lack of reading struck a nerve.

“Jessica's had acting lessons, too,” Camille said firmly.

And this is strictly true. Jessica had participated in a “Mini Movie Stars” program at a community center back in Chicago. There, some fearless young woman had attempted to herd Jessica and a dozen other four-year-olds into their roles in The Emperor's New Clothes.

As The First Thief, Jessica had chortled with sinister zeal:

Heh, heh, heh! Can't you see the cloth? Isn't it beautiful?

The villains always get the good lines.

So yes, strictly speaking, she has had acting lessons.

He backed down. “All right. Let's draw names for Mary from a hat,” he said. “Does anybody else want to be Mary?”

Now that it was a question of chance, two other girls entered the fray.

Of the four Marys in the hat, one of those last two was drawn. Victory made her shy, however, and she indicated some second thoughts. It was decided that she needed an understudy, and Jessica's name was drawn.

The shy Mary didn't make the first rehearsal, and Jessica played the walk to Bethlehem with a painful wince and a hand on her belly. (Where could she have picked that up?) We'll have to wait for Christmas Eve to find out whether she is ultimately chosen among women.

Poor Megan, alas, gets to wear the angel wings.


Patricia from Pollywog Creek said...

Oh...that is just too funny! I must agree that the "mama bear" in us does sometimes overule...not that *I* ever have! =)

Michael Hardt said...

Thanks, Patricia. I always enjoy that side of Camille because it always takes me by surprise.