Darrell, my only son, was nothing less than a handful as a very young boy. I suppose in today's world, he would be drugged with Prozac or some other "calming" medicine for overly active (now known as ADD) kids. When he was at his "best", if you get my drift, we simply dealt with it using old fashioned parenting. He knew who was "in-charge" but never stopped testing the waters to see how far he could go. Today, as a grown man, he is one of the most mellow people I know. So let me tell you about the Christmas program.
I don't recall the year, but it was during the Christmas holidays. We lived in a small community where most people were active participants in in their religious practices. My husband and I were not. However, we allowed our kids to participate as much as they chose. They did just that, attending Sunday school and other programs for kids at the church. As most Christians do, a program depicting the birth of Christ was planned with the kids playing the various roles needed. Darrell was to be one of shepherds. Rehearsals went on for a few weeks before the night of the program. That day arrived, the program planned for early evening. I helped the kids get dressed for the parts they were to play; Archie and I loaded them into the car and off to the church we went.
Darrel was dressed in his little plaid robe and I had used a white flannel diaper to wrap around his head. With a borrowed wooden cane, he fit the part perfectly. I'm sure I wasn't the only Mom who tried to encourage her child to do his best, but to remember he would be in the church and he had better behave...or else!
We arrived at the church rec center, a little nervous to be around all these people who took their faith so seriously, hoping the roof wouldn't cave in from the shock of our attendance. However, our apprehension was quickly dissipated by the warm welcome we were given. I escorted the kids backstage where their teachers would make last minute preparations. A welcoming speech was given to announce the evening's agenda, lights were dimmed, chatter stopped and the curtain opened. Cameras flashed from proud parents as their darling children performed their parts to perfection. Knowing the story well, I knew it was time for the shepherds to appear. Two came from stage left, reverent demeanor intact. Silence. No action. I was holding my breath, waiting for the third, who should have been with the first two..namely, Darrell. It seemed an eternity passed when suddenly, like a bolt of lightening, Shepherd no. 3 came stumbling over his own feet from stage left followed by the long arm of his teacher who had obviously had to shove him onto the stage. There he was in all his glory, little plaid robe open, barely hanging onto his shoulders, exposing his Micky Mouse T-shirt, the white diaper head dress holding onto his head by one ear....my face burning hot and crimson, eyes bulging in disbelief. As I was thinking, "Why me, Lord"? the room burst into loud and hysterical laughter which seemed to last forever while I sat there horrified, imagining people judging my child rearing abilities. The laughter died, the play continued to it's finish while I was trying frantically to find a plausible answer for this humiliating disruption to this otherwise holy story.
I admit, no one said a word which was a relief. Following the program, the kids were surprised by a visit from Santa, himself. Parents and Grandparents sat in their chairs as the kids lined up, waiting for their turn to sit on his lap, give him their wish list and receive the bag of candy he had brought for each one. It was fun to listen to those innocent little angels and watch the awe in their eyes while sitting on that lap. Then came Darrell's turn..........still askew in his dress, he climbed onto Santa's lap. Santa asked the question.."And what would you like to find under the tree, young man"? Without hesitation, my precious child answered, "I already know what I'm gettin', I saw in my Mom and Dad's closet"! More laughter, more red cheeks from Mom.
It was a wondrous night..................I was so proud.