Written by Beck Hendropurnomo
It’s coming up to that time of year again, Christmas! And Christmas equals concerts.
You know the kind.
The concerts which has educators in a flurry and mothers cursing all things end of year as they sew through their finger for the millionth time, trying to make scraps of fabric and wire resemble something vaguely festive.
I pity my poor mother and father, who throughout the course of raising four children, would have had to sit through an estimated 32 performances.
This is inclusive of Sunday School, Primary School and Kinder (Mum copped severe flack from other mothers in 1991 when my little brother announced to Santa that he didn’t believe in him. Apparently she ruined Christmas).
I myself have mixed emotions about concerts, as of course I was an active (and unwilling) participant over the course of my early schooling years.
1990 was my first year at school, and the year they tried to teach a bunch of 5 year olds how to play the recorder (demented instrument if you ask me). I can clearly remember the squeak of the recorder next to me, and being a typical nosy Prep, turning to stare (no scruples) and watching a river of snot slowly cascade down the nose of the little girl next to me. I was sickeningly fascinated waiting to see if it would make it to her mouth, which it did….(just dry retched a little).
Throughout the 90’s, I was always in the Sunday School concert. Every year I hoped for the coveted role of Mary. I could picture myself walking gracefully with a pillow under my tunic, huffing and puffing as Joseph and I discovered all the Inns were booked out. I imagined myself gently holding the baby with the appropriate amount of reverence and joy, greeting all the wise folk and shepherds as they came to see the babe. And mum and dad would tell everyone that I was a hit.
This was never to be. I was always taller then other girls my age, which apparently made me the perfect height to be an angel. Angel number #2, back right hand corner of the assembled choir. Always. With an uninteresting robe, and a dash of tinsel to try and jazz up all the white. We didn’t even get wings.
I always seemed to do well at Elocution Night (yes…we had elocution nights…primary school kids reciting poetry…riveting if you lived in the Victorian era). I won pretty much every recital for my year level, scoring quite a few points for blue house. I enjoyed those nights, with my shined up shoes and neatly braided hair, seeing my parents smiling from the crowd.
As someone who has worked with kids, and has small children in the extended family, I have seen a few concerts. One memorable one was at an International School in Indonesia where I was a teachers aide. We survived the whole show, and it was the grand finale. My friend and I watched as all the kids were assembled on the stage, some arranged on a three tiered stand. Amy lent in and whispered, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the stand collapsed?”. A few seconds later, we heard a massive crack, and all the kids tumbled to the ground as the stand buckled and snapped from the weight.
They were fine, and were laughing. Our attention was drawn to the candelabra (yes, with lit candles) and my friend started pondering again…(we could just see the curtains catching fire). Thankfully another parent obviously had the same idea, and swiftly removed the potential fire hazard.
Two years ago, my hubby and I went to a family member’s pre school concert, hiding down the back (which is slightly difficult when you are the only red-headed white person in the entire place) whilst trying to politely ignore the official photographer (always tried to get a shot of me eating which my father in law found amusing).
I was in silent laughter watching the 2-3 year old’s on stage, dressed as farm animals and cow girls. There was the one kid dressed as a farm hand who decided to go boneless, whilst a red faced teacher tried to animate him, lifting his floppy arms in an attempt to make him look like he was joining in. He looked as sullen as a wet fish, and about as vibrant as one.
It was funny and sad to see a little distressed rooster dragged onto the stage, who burst into tears when he saw the vast expanse of parents, siblings and nannies in the crowd. Pretty sure that’s going to be seared in his memory.
So as the season approaches, I reflect that as crazy, painful and stressful kids concerts are, I feel that they are a necessary part of childhood. As a child it’s worth it for the costumes, the chance to giggle with friends, and drink copious amounts of red cordial after the show (because the adults aren’t really paying attention).
As a parent, I am looking forward to the moment I see Evie get up there on stage, where she scans the crowd for mum and dad, and locks eyes with us. I can’t wait for the cuddles after when I tell her how amazing she was, and Jonny carrying her in from the car when we get home because she has crashed from the hype and fun.
Enjoy this time, and remember….a 21st birthday party is your chance for revenge.
This article was written by Beck Hendropurnomo – you can see Beck’s own blog here

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