Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Year 2 SATs - an alternative view

"What are SATs?" asked my 7 year old daughter recently, as I dropped them into a conversation about the state of the school hall and how I couldn't walk through it for all the exam tables that had been set up.

You see, neither she nor her twin brother have any idea that they are taking the tests this year.  That's how the school have played it with the Year 2 children and I'm rather glad.

Now I've been through SAT's many times before.  I blogged about the Year 6 tests that my middle child took last year, and how I thought that the hysteria surrounding them had mainly come from how so many schools/parents approach them.  Our own Primary School was particularly bad at this (working them hard and then promoting relaxation techniques to 11 year olds, FFS) .

With the Year 2 SATs I'm not so sure this is the case.  My children have been to two different Primary Schools between them and none of them have ever been aware that the tests are even taking place.  The school my eldest son went to did refer to them as "clever testing" which rather appealed to my son as he liked the idea of potentially beating a clever test.  Shame that he doesn't see his upcoming GCSEs in the same light but you can't have it all.

My twins have been given some practise books for English and Maths, but with the strict instruction that completing them is optional.  This means that my eager to please, rule loving daughter has finished them while my very laid back, homework hating son has just said he doesn't need to do them because he knows it all already.  I see shades of the teen boy in him which is a slight worry.



But none of this matters.  The tests are testing the school, not the children as I understand it, and why wouldn't you want to know how well your school is teaching your children?  I know I do.

And the results?  I can't actually remember how well any of my older children did in their SATs*.  The results were buried somewhere on the back page of their report along with an explanation of the grading system which resembled a light novel in size.  I'll confess, I got really bored and stuffed the whole lot in a drawer never to see the light of day again.  The kids didn't even ask how well they'd done.

In a couple of week's time nobody will remember anything about them anyway.  We'll all be talking about the end of year concert and how we can get out of being volunteered for the face painting stall at the PTA Summer Fair.

As for after SATs parties, we won't be going to one of those either.  They aren't finals for god's sake. Either that or I've missed the memo about what a life defining point the Year two tests are?  Don't even get me started on High School Proms - a blog for another day.

So, another year, another bunch of tests.  That's how I'm looking at it.

I just wish everybody else did too.


*  You can pop my 'Mother of the Year' award in the post now if you like.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Training for a marathon, it's just like having a baby?

I can't say that a marathon is something I've ever aspired to completing. Until recently.

The ballot for next year's London Marathon opened this week and my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram quickly became swamped with people declaring their entry.  Added to that, every weekend for the past month or more I've seen pictures of other people completing marathons of their own.  Ordinary people, just like me. Accomplishing something brilliant.

The feeling that I might want to do this myself, and soon, is becoming unshakable.

You see, when you take up running, distance and times all seem fairly irrelevant at first.  Then, as you start to improve you think, well, maybe I could.  I could run a marathon.  After all, last year I ran a half marathon and its just two of those.

Back to back. On the same day.  Just eight and a bit parkruns.

How hard could it be?

There is just one thing that worries me.  All that training.

Well, not so much the training as how much it takes over your life.  Rather like having children in fact (and I have plenty of experience of having children...).

Training for a long distance race for the very first time is a lot like having a baby.  A lot.

Maybe not exactly.  It's not as if you get a small human to take home when you run 13.1 or 26.2 miles, but bear with me here while I try to explain my thoughts.

1.  Fear and utter disbelief (aka submitting your race entry)

I can still remember the feeling I had when those two little lines appeared on the pregnancy test stick as if it were yesterday.  "What have I done?", "I don't think I can do this!"

Too late.

When I completed my first half marathon application, it took a week to be confirmed with my chosen charity and during this time I watched my emails with the same thoughts bubbling up inside my brain.

When the email finally came I realised that it really was too late to change my mind on that too.

2.  Buying all the things

When you are expecting a baby a whole world of retail opens up to you, as you discover shops that you previously had no interest in.  The latest baby monitor, moses basket, buggy and toys.  You decide you will need them all. In colours matching your nursery decor.

It's much the same when you start training for a race.  I'm afraid to say that the Nike outlet holds as much excitement for me now as Mothercare did back then.  What do you mean, I don't need another pair of running shoes? I don't have any that match my charity vest yet.

3.  Special underwear

You know the sort.  Sexless non underwired bras, reminiscent of something you imagine an elderly aunt to wear, coupled with Bridget Jones style knickers.  Sadly, while you may think I'm talking about maternity wear here, the same rules apply for comfortable running underwear. #chafefree

Oh, have you ever had those funny sock things in hospital after a c-section?  Well, runners have their own version of those too, specifically for after really long runs.  Luckily they come in funky colours (obviously this makes them loads better).

Fancy socks (its lucky for you that I didn't choose a picture of my underwear)


4.  The plan

What to eat, what to drink, how long to run for.  My running plan seemed OK to begin with.  Until I began getting emails telling me what phase I was in that week and how I should be progressing.  It's a bit like one of those baby development books that I bought when I was first pregnant, the sort that turn you into a complete obsessive over every detail.  What if I hadn't run the required number of miles?  What if I was 17% too fast? What if I didn't have any morning sickness?  What if my baby wasn't the size of a grapefruit?  FFS, it's all bonkers and none of it really matters anyway.  Except it did to me.  Both times.

5.  Two weeks before the big day

This is when most women start maternity leave, a blissful period of endless waiting and eating cake.

Runners have their own version of this called tapering, where they do very little milage, wait for an age for race day and then do something called "carb loading" which is basically eating lots of cake too.

6.  Labour and birth/Race day

I can confirm that for me both of these things started with a very early morning, nerves and excitement and intense self doubt.

Oh, and pain and exhaustion.  There was lots of that.

In pain, at least the photographer framed the shot nicely.


Also, some very unflattering photographs afterwards.

7.  Hanging out with your own kind

In pregnancy I had NHS Antenatal classes, in which we'd hang out at coffee shops and talk about stretch marks, piles and leaky nipples.  All morning.

Runners on the other hand have parkrun, where we hang out at the park and discuss appropriate training surfaces, running shoes and compare injuries (some of which include bleeding nipples and missing toenails *boak*).

There are genuinely no taboo subjects where both these groups of people are concerned.  Fact.

8.  Other people

From the moment that you announce that you are having a baby other people just love to pass on their helpful advice.  This ranges from how painful and difficult it's all going to be to how easy they found it to give birth themselves and how big their baby was/long their labour was.  People are obsessed with statistics I've found.

Runners are another good example of this.  So many people asked me what time I was hoping for in the lead up to my half marathon.  If not that then they told me how easy my target time would be to achieve.  Also, whenever you announce that you are planning to run a half or full marathon for the first time then there's always someone who replies that they've already run two (there's always one, eh?).  Or worse, the ones who ask you if you're going to stop running now, once you've completed it. Err, no.  I'm not.

9.  Post birth/race blues

You've had the baby and everyone's making a fuss of you both.  Things should be pretty great.  Except you can't stop crying or feeling sad that things maybe didn't go as planned or you are just overwhelmed with the whole experience and how exhausted you feel.  The three day weepy, as a friend of mine called it, is a very uncontrollable and real thing after you've had a baby.  But the good thing is that it passes pretty quickly.

Apparently feeling sad after your first race is also a real thing too.  Although you can't really attribute it to hormones, although I think all the post race adrenaline may have something to do with it.  From obsessing over the bad miles in your race where you know you could have improved, to wondering what to do with yourself now that it's all over and your charity has received their cash.  I even cried because I didn't get a photo of myself crossing the finish line.  I look like a state in all of my running pictures but I still wanted one *sulks*.  Thankfully this passed quickly too.

10.  I want to do it all again

When you suddenly realise that it's nowhere near as bad as you were told/thought and that maybe you are quite good at this and actually enjoy it.  In fact you wonder why you ever doubted yourself at all.  You've got this.  And, you feel an enormous sense of pride and achievement.  Your whole body may feel a wreck but you know you'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Yes, on reflection, for me completing my first race was pretty similar to that too.




To marathon, or not to marathon?  The training may be as bad as pregnancy but I've survived that not once, but four times.

So, watch this space...

Thursday, 9 March 2017

GCSEs - a revision guide for parents

So, here we are, knee deep in mock exam results and wondering how things are going to pan out over the next few months with the teen boy.

Having been to the parents evenings and the multiple revision/careers/sixth form open days, I somehow feel like there's as much pressure on me to make him get the right grades as there is on him.

There's nothing else for it, it's time for some revision and so I have put together a helpful guide for all parents of teens to enable you get through this highly stressful period.

Repetition

Prince once said that there is joy in repetition, but quite obviously he never had to do GCSE revision with a teenager. It's pretty standard practice to repeat the question "have you done any revision today?" at least 78 times a day for about six months.  Intersperse this with "where are the revision sheets your teacher gave you?" and occasionally switch it up for "have you finished your Art coursework yet?" for good measure. See? Joy... (maybe Prince was being ironic?)

Prince never had to revise with a recalcitrant teen, the lucky sod


Applying revision to everyday life

Examples might be:

Maths - "If I ask you 78 times a day if you've done your revision yet, how many total times will I ask you over the period of the full Spring term (including half term)?"

English - "Give examples, including relevant quotations, of how the battles in this house over Playstation time with your brother accurately reflect the struggles encountered between Ralph and Jack in Lord of the Flies".

Science - "what is the boiling point of a mother's blood upon reading the latest in a very long series of emails from their son's Head of Year detailing what still needs to be done in order for her son to pass his exams?"

Philosophy - "It's not fair.  Discuss".

Downtime

It is important to relax and get away from the daily grind and stresses of GCSE revision.  The teens like to "hang out" and play Call of Duty or whatever, but it's good for us parents to switch off occasionally too.   I like to go running.  I am considering entering at least three half marathons currently, as the resulting training I would need to do to complete them would mean many hours away from constantly having to remind people to get on with their revision the cut and thrust of the revision timetable.  Which would be very relaxing indeed.

Incentivise

Much in the same way that parents incentivise their children to pass exams (apparently the going rate is about £100 for every A*) I like to give myself little incentives too.  Just think that as soon as this is all over there will be less money needed for expensive revision guides (seriously, are they printed on butterfly wings or something?) and yet another copy of Romeo and Juliet (he may be losing these on purpose, I really am not sure) which in turn means that I can spend it on handbags or running shoes instead.  Much better.

Panic

If all else fails, panic!  He'll get it eventually, won't he?  His Maths teacher said not to worry?  He doesn't seem all that worried about it so why should I be?  But what if he has underestimated how hard the exam papers will be? Maybe he could use his bedroom as his final art project?  After all it looks exactly like a Tracey Emin installation**.  And breathe.

Not that I ever do this you understand.  *throws revision guides at teen and rifles through a billion school emails for revision tips*

*realises I have to go through this all again next year*

FML.


**  I could provide pictures but they would be way too horrific.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Hey, Jay Z...

You've got 99 problems and twins?  Are definitely going to be two of them (also your wife as well, if my own behaviour post twins is anything to go by).

Anyway, firstly, Congratulations!  You are about to join quite an elite club - J Lo, Mariah, Celine, Brad and Ange, H from Steps and myself of course.  We're all in the twin parent posse.

So with that in mind I thought I'd give you a heads up on the joys life might hold for you in a few months' time.  It can be quite a learning curve.

1.  Forget ever going anywhere in a hurry again.  You and Bey may think that you are the celebrities now but when those twins come along every outing becomes at least three times as long as you get stopped by everyone, and I mean everyone. The only difference is that they aren't interested in you at all. Imagine that!  No, they really just want to ask all about the twins and squidge their little cheeks (which trust me, gets a bit annoying).  Sometimes you might think its just easier to stay at home instead.  It is.

2.  Forget ever getting through the doors of your favourite shops ever (or anywhere, even doing Blue Ivy's school run is going to be tricky).  I'll be honest here, double buggies these days are very cool, but the one thing that has never really changed about them is that they are all flipping massive.  The instructions may say that it fits through a standard single doorway but basically that's a lie.  Get used to a lifetime of ramming the bastard thing through every doorway you encounter taking plaster off walls, paint off door frames and possibly flesh off other people's ankles as you go.  It's like the manufacturers have inflicted them on us twin parents as the yang to the yin that is the ultimate cuteness that sits inside them.  The good news?  You'll only have to manage this for around three years.  After that you'll be chasing two children in opposite directions instead.  Yeah I know, fun right?!

3.  Get down the gym now and lift some weights.  Not only will you look HOT but it will make the task of lifting the giant baby changing bag that you need for carrying the twins' belongings everywhere you go a whole lot easier.  Twins need loads of gear and I'm betting baby Gucci doesn't exactly pack light.

4.  Be extra nice to your bestest friends/mother.  You and Bey are going to need a night out eventually.  And, to be honest, there aren't a lot of people who willingly babysit three kids at once, especially when two of them are in some kind of crying, puking tag team.  So be nice to your mates and your mother and they'll only feel guilty if they don't be too happy to oblige when you two want to have a night off.  OK, so you'll probably spend that night asleep or eating things without having to share or well, asleep (Ahhh sleep...) but at least you know that the babies will be in good hands with Rihanna or Mrs C Senior.  Give them good Christmas presents and they may even babysit more than once! OK they won't.

Two of my 99 problems.  No idea what they were up to here - but it was probably no good.

5.  Get used to being a referee.  Pretty much as soon as they learn to speak.  The "I am older than him" row is my favourite (especially when you bear in mine that it is only by two minutes).  Everything you give them has to be equal, everything they do has to be the same.  Once I had to split a sweet in two.  A sweet!  If I'm totally honest, this gets quite exhausting eventually.  Earplugs may be the answer actually.

And finally, I know I'm painting a bit of a bleak picture of twin parenting here, but I've asked my husband what it's like being a twin dad and he said he wouldn't change it for the world.  He also really likes going to work now.  So I'm expecting an awful lot of new albums from you over the next year (and probably a tour).

Love to you, Beyonce, and Blue Ivy during this exciting time.

Peace out (or whatever it is you musician types say).

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Very Hungry Teenager*

By the light of an iPhone, a large seemingly immovable lump lay on a bed.

On Sunday morning the curtains were opened by a mother (she had successfully used a head torch to navigate from one side of the room to the other to avoid the piles of clothing and rubbish in her quest for daylight) and POP! - out of the bed lurched a grumpy and very hungry teenager.





"Oh My God!  We never have anything good to eat in this house" he bellowed.  He mother told him she was fed up of always doing the shopping just so that he could eat it all, and so she gave him the cash and dispatched him to the supermarket.

He started to look for some food.

On Monday he ate through one box of breakfast cereal.

But he was still hungry.

On Tuesday he ate through two pot noodles.

But he was still hungry.

On Wednesday he ate through three share sized bags of crisps.

But he was still hungry.

On Thursday he ate through four bacon sandwiches.

But he was still hungry.

On Friday he ate through five custard filled doughnuts.

But he was still hungry.

On Saturday he ate through one freshly baked homemade cake (which was for the school fair),
one tub of Ben and Jerry's (his mother was saving that for eating while watching Sherlock *tuts*),
the last packed of pickled onion flavoured Monster Munch (which he was welcome to),
a whole packet of swiss cheese (for packed lunches!),
a packet of italian salami (seriously, I was looking forward to that),
a lollipop (nicked from his seven year old sister's party bag),
the last of the christmas mince pies from the freezer (well, someone had to have them),
a sausage (I can't leave anything in the fridge for a minute - cold sausages are my favourite),
a cupcake (nothing is sacred),
and one slice of watermelon flavoured bubblegum (no fruit or vegetables may pass his lips).

Unsurprisingly that night he had a stomach ache!

The next day was Sunday again and so he stayed in his pit and got everyone to wait on him hand and foot. That night he felt much better.

And for a brief period at least, he wasn't hungry anymore, and he wasn't little anymore.

He was at least six inches taller than last week.

His mother said that maybe they should go shopping for some new clothes for him.

"But I don't want to go shopping!" he said, "Shopping is sooooo boooooring!" *does eyeroll*

So instead he climbed back into bed, wrapping the covers around himself in a cocoon-like fashion, leaving his mother to work out what size leg he was in jeans now so that she could order them on the internet.  And he pretended to do some GCSE Maths revision for a bit.

Eventually he realised that he needed a shower, otherwise he would likely never get a girl to go to prom with him and so he left his bed and...

demanded that his mother buy him some head and shoulders, some clearasil and a pricey pot of hair wax (oh, and some more breakfast cereal, because someone keeps eating it all?).

The End.

(except it never really is the end is it?  It goes on and on, or is that just me? FFS.)


*  With apologies to Eric Carle (or as the teenagers say, #sorrynotsorry).

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Advanced Teen Speak - The (mildly) Festive Edition

A few months back you may remember me writing a Teen Speak Masterclass.  This was based upon my teenagers new and confusing use of the English language and was an attempt at trying to understand it. Obviously this failed miserably, because I still have no idea what they are talking about most of the time, but it did prove rather popular with readers.

So, as its nearly Christmas and being a parent to teenagers really is the gift that keeps on giving, I am sharing a new guide (because you can forget anything you learned in the last one - they've changed it all), complete with a festive twist*.

So, if you have a teen or two pay attention, take notes, you are about to get your training in advanced teen speak, just in time for spending the Yuletide period with them.  How lucky.

dank

This year we are spending Christmas day at my mother's house. Major eyerolls from the teens in the house, naturally.  According to the teen girl, Christmas will not be dank.  Now, you might think that that's a good thing and I can confirm that my mum's house is neither unpleasantly damp or cold.  It isn't dank.  So that's good.

Except when it isn't.  You see, when the teen girl says it isn't dank that means it isn't dank, I mean not in the traditional sense.  It just isn't good. Dank is good - dank meme, dank party etc etc.

Confused yet?  Yes, me too.

peng

Now, owing to the fact that teenagers are always shortening words for txt spk for example and also because it is winter now/a bit cold outside, I did originally think that peng might have been short for penguin?

Sadly, I'm wrong here too.  Peng is yet another word for good, or if its a person, good looking.  An example here would be  "I thought I might wear my new Boden dress on Christmas day".  "OMG Mum, you will look so peng!" (I am lying, they will never say this if you are over 25 and wear Boden, sorry).

I've still yet to establish whether penguins can be peng though.

salty

"Don't be salty" said the teen boy when I asked him why the hell he hadn't done any revision for his mock exams last week (FFS).  Erm, OK?

Apparently I am always salty.  You might assume this has something to do with actual salt (maybe I should be more concerned with my salt intake? Was he actually concerned about this?).  No.  Salty means upset, cross or angry.  I am still salty about the lack of revision, I mean, what is he thinking?

scrub

When shopping for your Christmas treats do be aware that teenagers have very high standards when it comes to certain supermarket branded goods.  Saying things like "Ooh, the Aldi Christmas catalogue has some nice things in it this year, I think I'll stock up" will elicit the following response, "Oh Mum!  You are such a scrub".

I recently completed a half marathon (I may have mentioned this already) but the teens complain when I wear the finisher's t-shirt I was given because a) it was free and b) it says Aldi on it - this is the definition of a scrub and is embarrassing.  I might wear it for parents' evening.


Scrub is not good, a bit budget (forget that if you save a few quid by buying Aldi gin you will be able to pay for their ever increasing mobile phone bill *sigh*).  Being cheap frugal is not good in the teen's eyes.  I still have not forgotten the time that they had a meltdown over my buying own brand crisps instead of Walkers.

Apparently this was a big deal.  Which leads me neatly on to my next word...

lit/legit

Everything in this house needs to be lit or legit.  With the teens nothing but the real thing is good enough. Legit Coca-Cola is a must and they were truly impressed when I once bought lit twix bars.  Phew.  And lit/legit meaning legitimate is a kind of easy one to work out isn't it?  Or, is it?

Legitimate


For some reason even though the teens like to C U l8r m8 on txt spk as I mentioned previously, when something is lit or legit it is far cooler to use the full word, legitimate.  I feel like some kind of lightbulb moment might have occurred in their heads (have they been revising after all?).  Could it be that they've finally started to use their mother tongue as it was intended?

Don't be silly, it's just another clever trick to confuse us parents.  Full words, part words, words that are completely unrelated to the subject at hand - there are no rules to teen speak.

top kek!

"Those are some top keks!" I wondered whether this meant they approved of the underwear I had bought them (which by the way was lit M&S) but no.  A top kek is a major lol, the last laugh, something that generates huge amusement.

But can I ever have the last laugh with my teens?

Maybe.

*wraps two copies of the English dictionary and puts them under the tree*

Merry Christmas!


*  well, kind of.  It is a very tenuous attempt to be topical.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

How to Ace the School Nativity

It's been a while since I've written anything but today I have news.  Actually I've lots of things that I could be telling you all about, but for some reason this particular thing stuck out as being important.

An important parenting milestone in fact.

So here it is... (are you ready?)

This year will be the last year I will ever have to endure enjoy the school infants nativity play as a parent.

I know.  It's crept up on me somewhat.  Yet another rite of passage to tick off the list.

To a certain extent I have been waiting for this moment to come for years.  Mainly so I don't have to sit on those god awful tiny plastic chairs in the school hall, but also because once you've seen one nativity, well? You have seen them all.

Anyhow, why am I telling you this?  Well, it occurred to me that while I will be bidding a fond teary farewell to the buildup and stress excitement of this event this year, there will still be many of you who will be starting out on your nativity play watching careers.  And, I for one have learnt a lot during this time and so I thought I could impart some of my wisdom* onto others (sharing is caring and all that) so here it is.

How to ace the school nativity - a guide for parents

1.  Costumes

Oh bloody hell, where do I begin?  That innocent slip of paper that your child brings home in late November stating the costume requirements for their part in the nativity.  This is usually enough to sent the calmest parent into a flap, especially when a) every child in reception is part of a flock of sheep/donkeys/shepherds and b) you can't sew.  So your choice is to go to every frigging Asda in a a five million mile radius to track down the appropriate attire before 29 other parents buy it first *tears hair out*, or you could go for another option...

I must confess that while I remember doing just that, with wry affection, I have not had to bother with any of this kind of stuff for years.  This is because we moved our children to a different school a while back.  And I'll be the first to admit that when the head teacher of the new school proudly told us that all the costumes for Christmas performances were provided by them, my eyes lit up, my heart sang, my fingers sighed a happy sigh that they would never have to stitch tinsel onto a t-shirt again, and dh and I mentally high-fived each other with a look that said "this is the future".  You get the idea.

So my first tip - choose a school that makes its own costumes and worry no more (possibly not an option for most people, but it does work).

I did not make this costume

2.  Starring roles

Essentially what you are dealing with here is managing expectations.  Whatever part your child ends up with, if they are not Mary or Joseph they will probably be a bit miffed.  This year my daughter came home and told me that she was only the donkey and that she didn't have any words to say (unlike her twin brother who did).  She was sad and so I did what any reasonable parent would do in this situation.  I built her part.  "But the donkey is the best part" I said.  "Without the donkey Mary and Joseph can't get to Bethlehem, and better than that there's a whole song dedicated to how great the donkey is.  Basically, without the donkey Mary and Joseph are screwed there is no story".  And with that she now believes that the donkey is the star.  My son is Alien Number Three (yes, I know, how are there aliens in the nativity?  No flipping idea.  I wait to be enlightened).  And yes you might have guessed, he ranks higher than aliens number one and two in the extra terrestrial hierarchy. They are both so thrilled and excited. My work here is done.

3.  Pictures

Listen, whatever you do, make sure that you take a decent picture before you go.  We can't take pictures at our nativity (actual reasons to do with serious stuff), and so we have to take a quick snap before we leave. For your viewing pleasure here is exhibit a), our first nativity as parents.  My husband didn't check the background before taking this and my mother-in-law had left a bag containing a pair of pink slippers in front of the chair.  Unfortunately for my now 16 year old, this picture will be forever known not as "first nativity" but as "bum slippers".  Please learn from our error.

All I wanted was a picture of my child dressed as a sheep, instead I got this?  FFS.


4.  Watching

Same rule applies for every event where the school try to cram 3000 parents** into a space smaller than Harry Potter's understairs bedroom.  Get there first.  If you're canny then offer to help with make-up, costumes or anything which gets you into that hall before everyone else.  I have seen loads of mums do this over the years and often wondered if they were a bit mad but now I see what they were up to. Clever.

5.  Appreciate the teachers

Because no matter how stressed you've been about all the above, you can rest assured that your child's teacher has had this stress x 30 kids for the past month or longer.  If there's one thing I've learnt over the last 11 years of nativity watching its that the teachers manage to bring it all together every year without fail. This is amazing.

However much I might moan about the nativity, it's fair to say that I feel so happy every year when I see my children performing it.  For me it marks the start of Christmas proper, and secretly I love it. 

Oh yes, you might also want to consider bringing a spare tissue?  The woman next to you will have forgotten hers and will probably be doing a good impersonation of Alice Cooper as her children, known as Donkey and Alien Number Three, put on their Oscar winning performances on stage (seriously I already have RADA on speed-dial).  See, even the most nativity-weary of parents get carried away at this time of year...

Final school nativity? I'll ace it (obvs.).


*  OK, just the usual part common sense, part laughing at my own stupidity, but mostly luck

**  This might be a slight exaggeration but it says 3 tickets per child, not bring your entire family tree.  Bitter, me?
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