05/10/2012 14:34 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

No More Nativity Plays (Sob!): The Lament Of The Parent With Older Children

Child dressed as a sheep in nativity play

You know you're getting old when as a parent you don't have any Christmas nativity plays to attend. Letters no longer come home in the book bag requesting your child come into school dressed as a sheep on the last Tuesday of term – "a white top, white tights and black school shoes, with perhaps a smudge of black face paint on the nose should suffice".

Never again will I sit up until 1.30am, desperately trying to fashion not one but six pairs of angel wings from coat hangers and tinsel, nor will I have to get to school ridiculously early in order to be in with any kind of chance of getting a seat to watch my child in their "starring" role. One year I swear my son was on stage for no more than 37 seconds in a 45 minute production.

"Be grateful," wails my friend Joanna, who is currently in the throes of flailing madly about sorting outfits for three boys who have no inclination whatsoever to play a shepherd/wise man/peasant/robin red breast in their various Christmas productions and really couldn't care too hoots that one of them is the inn keeper (a role my nephew secretly coveted for years and never quite got over not playing).

But it makes me sad as I realise that all too quickly those precious early years disappear as quickly as the discarded Christmas presents do by mid January.

Don't get me wrong – I've had my heart-stopping moments of wild blind panic, when letters came home directing me to produce an outfit I hadn't a hope in hell of finding without ridiculous stress levels.

There was the time I returned from work tired and grumpy (some things never change) to read a letter telling me my daughter was to be a donkey in less than a week's time. "A plain dark grey ensemble from head to foot is required, with perhaps a fur-type element/pair of ears as additional extras would be acceptable," said the note.

Do you know any six-year-old who habitually dress head to toe in dark grey? No, me neither. And trying to persuade said six-year-old that her brother's grey school jumper (way too big) and her own grey school trousers were indeed a most fitting donkey outfit just didn't cut it.

An expensive trip to the local fabric shop and two failed attempts at cutting the material into some sort of furry grey tunic later, I emailed a host of fellow parents asking for all temporary donations of anything grey. Shall we just say the resulting outfit was "interesting"?

Then there was the year we made it extra early to my son's infant production. The traditional Christmas arrangement was tear-inducing. No PC correctness here – it was all angels and shepherds and singing cherubs.

Our front row seats would ensure we got a good view. A shame then that my son was positioned beside a little girl who chose to spend the entire performance chewing the contents of her nostrils, and so jam-packed were the tots beside each other than there was no way you could film him without capturing her. Charming.

Another year we thought as a family we had arrived. Our daughter was chosen to be Mary in the Brownies Christmas show. There was much rejoicing and celebrating. "I'm going to be Mary, I'm going to be Mary" she happily sang around the house in the lead up to her big moment. We'd been unlucky at church and unlucky at school, and now Brownies had come up trumps.

But on the big day it became one huge anti-climax (sounds familiar?). For Louise sat through the whole production looking first beatific and then, gradually, positively fed-up.

Ah, those were the days.