In two days my son will take part in the fourth Christmas performance of his school career. He has only a minor role, but much singing and dancing, and is shiny eyed and flushed of cheek with excitement. And this year, I am actually looking forward it, too - in stark contrast to every other year.
So why has it taken me so long to enjoy my little boy's festive board treading? Because every previous show – be that Christmas or otherwise - has been blighted by the behaviour of other parents.
Which this year, the school has taken steps to remedy in part by some simple action: they've banned the filming and photographing of the performances.
Obviously this has not gone down well with all mums and dads. But for me, the letter announcing this decision was the best news I'd had all week.
No longer would I have to put up with deranged parents SPRINTING through the school the second the gates were opened, pushing out of the way those less sprightly, to secure their places at the front of the hall and set up their broadcast standard equipment. I am not joking.
Some years, the hall has looked like a TV studio, with cameras, tripods and videos clogging up the front row, the sides of the hall and all of the aisles. Then there were the parents who would hold their mobile phones above their heads for the entire show, or STAND to get a better picture of their precious offspring being a totally mediocre sheep or donkey.
One year, I was smacked in the face by a held aloft mobile phone, another time I viewed the show in its entirety through the view-finder of a camera held in front of me.
Last year, full of PMT and Christmas rage, I was vocal in my protests; it did little to thwart the film-maker parents surrounding me, but hopefully my running commentary of loud coughs, sighs and ahems ruined the big moment when they pressed play on the footage back home.
But this year, all should be well; the school has hired a professional to film the kids' shows, and the DVDs will then be flogged for a tenner each in the New Year. A price I am more than happy to pay to be able to sit back and enjoy my son's production without some manic mother or show-off dad waving their filming devices around for an hour, and then causing a stampede when the curtain goes down to capture their sprog backstage (because, like, an HOUR'S film of them in a sheet and dressing gown cord head-dress ON STAGE is just totally not enough, is it?).
Some schools have had a pro coming in to do the honours for a while. My friend Emily tells me that at her school, parents are not allowed to film or take any pics at all for child protection reasons – but unlike me she does not agree with the move.
"They flog the DVDs for a small fortune," she says, "It drives me crackers. I don't necessarily want to watch the souped-up expensive shiny version of the whole thing - I just want close ups of my little darlings' lines.
"So many parents have commented on the shocking amount of money we've forked out over the last few weeks - money for tickets to the nativity, cash for the DVD, more money for the annual school calendar, money for the special Christmas school dinner, money for school photos, plus items for the Christmas hamper for the end of year raffle, and money for raffle tickets. And that's before we start buying presents for the long list of teachers and classroom assistants..."
There are some happy bunnies in Emily's house though – her kids: "They think having the DVDs means they're famous!"
Another mum, Lisa, thinks filming should all come down to consideration to others:
"I was actually quite happy that the school allowed parents to take photos and video if they wanted to. Last year it was in the local church, with the audience spread out quite widely, so it wasn't an issue, but really what the children faced was a wall of held up mobile phones. It felt really weird, but you know, everyone had a good view.
"This year it was in the hall of our new school building, which is actually quite narrow and parents were just so inconsiderate, doing exactly what the head had asked NOT to - running down the centre aisle, and just standing there so people at the back couldn't see, and also standing up and holding up cameras blocking the view of those behind. My mother in law was at the end of the row by the wall and in the end she stood against the wall so she could see her grandson - and we were only in the 4th row!"
Lisa thinks the solution is for the school to get stricter on the mums and dads – or, do like my school does and simply sell DVDS. But she says, the school Christmas production does seem to bring out the worst in the grown-ups, anyway: "One year at another year group's nativity play, they had to call the police after two parents had a scrap!"
Hmmm, due to a video camera in the face or a mobile phone blocking view incident, I wonder? Can't help but think that might have been me this year if my school hadn't seen sense and implemented the camera ban...
Has your school banned filming, preferring to sell DVDs? Do you despair of other parents sticking cameras everywhere? Or do you do whatever it takes to get some good footage of your kids' performing?
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