The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: Live Nativity

Mary, your baby is 42 pounds. And he’s giggling.

Last night was the Live Nativity at our church. We participate in it as a family every year and it is always the highlight of our holiday season.

In a nutshell, we set up 8 outdoor scenes depicting Mary and Joseph’s journey to the manger and we guide groups of visitors through the scenes, singing Christmas carols and telling the story as we go. All the actors are children and we bring in live animals for most of the scenes. It’s epic, and I don’t use that word lightly.

I wrote about our first experience with it a few years ago. Frankly, I’m surprised we ever went back for more after Mini-Me’s traumatic accident during practice and then the whole donkey poop issue.

But the kids love doing it, so we sign up again every year.

For our first three years, Mini-Me played an angel. It was not a speaking role. All she had to do was look cute and sing. Piece of cake.

Mini-Me and Donkey our first year in the Live Nativity, 2008. She was 6 years old.

We had so much fun, Mini-Me’s big brother Nature Boy decided to join the cast as a shepherd the following year (2009).

Nature Boy (10) as a shepherd and Mini-Me (7) as an angel with animals in the stable, 2009.

The last two years, he has wanted to be a Magi with his BFF. They have an alpaca in their scene. They love the alpaca.

I’m always a shepherd. It’s the only day of the year the neighbors aren’t wondering why I’m outside in my bathrobe with a curtain on my head.

Iris, Nature Boy, and an alpaca butt.

This year, Mini-Me decided she wanted to be THE Virgin Mary in the climactic final scene…

Why yes, that IS a rooster on a leash.

…the super-pregnant Virgin Mary who has just lined a manger with fresh hay so she has a place to put the newborn baby Messiah she’s expecting any minute.

It’s a major speaking role.

{GULP!}

I was fine with that. She’s got a dramatic flair, as you know.

But I didn’t realize the exact depth of her storytelling skills until I overheard a conversation she was having with her little brother, Bucket Head.

“Now you hide under my gown and when I give you the signal, you POP out and cry like a newborn baby. Okay?”

“Should I be naked?”

“Definitely.”

Naturally, I put the kibosh on it when they went to get the ketchup.

“Guys, stick to the script please. Mary doesn’t actually give birth during the show, sorry to disappoint you. Jesus isn’t born until Christmas day,” I scolded (trying not to laugh).

I had visions of Bucket Head’s curly mopped impish face crowning betwixt Mary’s white gown folds reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining: “Heeeeeeere’s JESUS!”

I was also more than a little nervous about Mini-Me thinking it would be glamorous to be an unwed pregnant teen someday so I made sure to drop a few phrases like “ring of fire” and “incontinence” when she asked me if wearing a pillow is what it feels like to be pregnant.

“Aw Mom. We’re just kidding. But that would be a funny Christmas card for next year, wouldn’t it?” Mini-Me suggested.

(Cue the shock and awe.)

So I got my Christmas miracle early this year: the Live Nativity went off without a single hitch. Everyone had a blast and rocked their parts. And yes, they all stuck to the script. (Just to be on the safe side, we sent Bucket Head to his Nonni’s house for the majority of the show.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved. Support your local perineum.

ASSuaging the Guilt

Hold it right there, bub. This is a two parter all about my bodily-fluid-filled Live Nativity experience at church last week. If you haven’t read the first part, click here.

Back so soon? So I can assume that you are up to speed then? You get a gold star, sugar. Let’s continue then, shall we? And now, the riveting conclusion to Urine Angel:

So, as you can see, I was feeling purdy dang guilty about my poor, sweet, six year old daughter Mini-Me shivering in a pool of her own pee pee and tears for possibly 15 minutes or more, alone, uncomfortable, and scared in a church powder room while I was outside learning my part as the Behind The Scenes (BTS) Mom for the Wisemen/King Herod scene. Well, my Mama didn’t raise no quitter, and I’m fixin’ to do the same with my brood. So I took my baby home, peeled her wet costume and multiple layers of clothes off, stuck her in a steamy bubble bath with a mug of hot cocoa, promised her it would all be better in the morning, and smothered her with love until she drifted off to sleep. The next morning I called the director of our Live Nativity, told her why Mini-Me missed the dress rehearsal the night before, and requested that I be reassigned to scene # 8, the big finale to the Live Nativity in which Mini-Me was cast as an angel.

The director was more than happy to recast me so that I could be with my Tinkling Angel in the stable. But apparently that clever crusader for Christ had a hidden agenda, which I learned the hard way a few hours later.

You see, once she got wind of my ability to clean up a messy situation, she knew I’d be the perfect person to supervise the stable scene.

Cue the baby donkey.

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That’s right, people. We had a real live baby donkey in my scene.

I didn’t know much about donkeys before that night, but I do now.

For starters, I now know that donkeys like to kick. Pair that character trait with a stable full of animal loving children and you have yourselves a perfect storm in the making. I pretty much spent half the night keeping the kids from getting their teeth knocked out. I swear, if I had a nickel for every time I said, “Girls… please don’t hug the donkey from behind. She’s gonna kick you in the head,” I’d have at least enough for a Venti Latte.

The other main thing I learned about donkeys that night is that they poop A LOT. Good Lord Almighty… they surely are the most regular mammals I’ve ever encountered up close and personal.

So, in addition to running defense for ass-kicking in the literal sense, I also found myself on perpetual-pooper-scooper duty. You see, donkey poop is very stinky. I’m talkin’ STANK, ya’ll. And that cute little donkey would just lift her tail ever so slightly and let about a dozen or so sugarplum-sized balls of poop fall right out of her ass-ass and then she would stand right there as if nothing ever happened, stepping in it and thereby wafting the fumes everywhere. I was thinking that the donkey might end up kicking one of us at some point, and I didn’t want one of us to get kicked with a donkey-poop-covered-hoof, so I felt like it was the clear course of action. I’d much rather be kicked in the teeth with a clean hoof, than a poopy one, wouldn’t you? I mean really. But also, it was stench management. I just couldn’t have my audience focusing on the donkey stank and not on the message of our joyous scene!

DOH! Watch your step, Little Angel!

DOH! Watch your step, Little Angel!

Now, the two teens playing Mary and Joseph were just as cute as can be. Mary especially just captured my heart. She was so sweet and wholesome and good with the little angels. She would get up between scenes and high five the little ones and give them sugar cookies that she had baked at home and brought with her to share. But as cute and sweet and good as she was, there was no way on God’s green earth that she was gonna stop her texting and get anywhere near that beast of burden or his donkey-doody. And Joseph? Fahgetaboutit. He was all, “Uh, excuse me, Miss Iris? The donkey, like, pooped…” and “Uh, like, Miss Iris? The donkey totally, like, pooped again…. ” So clearly, it was me or nobody. And honestly, once you have a few babies, a little donkey poop is nothing. In fact, I’d venture to say that picking up after a donkey was perhaps the least repulsive thing I’d done all day. Yeah, motherhood… those with weak stomachs need not apply.

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But here’s the thing, like most parenting tasks, picking up donkey dung is tricky. I did not want to have MY pearly whites knocked down my throat by this ass while I was doing the dirty work, no-siree-Bob. So, I had to hold the donkey by the head, turn her around, and scoop with one hand while I held her head with the other. That takes skill, I tell ya. Who knew I was such an ass-whisperer? And all of this had to be done quickly, in between scenes, while keeping the little angles from wandering off or spilling hot chocolate all over their white sheets. Oh, did I mention that I did all of this with a kitchen towel on my head and a bathrobe over my coat so I would blend in with the cast and look like a shepherd? Shoot… if my life were any more glamorous, I’d be signing autographs at the Piggly Wiggly.

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My daughter and I were out there for 5 hours, freezing our tails off and bringing joy to the world. Between the tinkle trauma the night before and the mountains of mule mess, it kinda sucked for me, actually. But Mini-Me loved it, and that’s what it’s all about. We totally bonded, we got to experience the thrill of not giving up when things got messy, and we got to learn about the real meaning of Christmas and even more about donkeys. By the way, donkey coats are surprisingly soft. I would have thought that they’d feel kinda wiry or coarse. But no. Soft as a bunny. Just a joy to touch and a nice natural hand warmer too.

My family members who did the guided tour said that our scene was by far the best, and then they swore that they weren’t just saying that because Mini-Me and I were in it. I’m so glad I signed my baby up for this and got to be there with her to see her shine in her little halo and make the audience giggle when she upstaged Mary every time with her enthusiastic singing and improvisational dance moves.  We’ll definitely do it again next year and now that we’ve survived it once, we’ll be even more prepared. Of course, with my luck and skills, they’ll probably throw in a couple of spitting camels and some sheep with irritable bowel syndrome, but that’s fine… it will just make me feel more at home. Bring it on, beeyotch.

I hope ya’ll are having holidays filled with joy and love and the kind of messes that make family time so memorable and funny for years to come! Seasons Greetings to you and yours!

with love,

The Bearded Iris

©2008 The Bearded Iris

Urine Angel

Desperately seeking a way to make Christmas more meaningful to my kids this year, and flat out refusing to buy one of those trendy “The Elf on the Shelf” thingies, I signed up my kids to be in the Live Nativity at my church this year.

In hindsight, maybe not such a good idea.

But in theory, it seemed like a great opportunity at the time.

My church does it every year. They set up 8 different scenes outside and a guide leads groups through a candlelit tour of the Christmas story. The thing lasts for 3 and 1/2 hours as groups are ushered through the 8 scenes, one after another. Last year over 700 people waited in line for upwards of an hour to be lead through this dramatic recreation. It is a huge deal at my church, and throughout my community in general. The newspapers usually come, as well as people from other parishes near and far.

Until this year, the powers-that-be have cast only high school students in all the roles. This is the first year they opened it up for the whole parish. So naturally, I jumped at the chance for my overly dramatic six year old daughter, “Mini-Me,” to be in the choir of angels celebrating the birth of Jesus in song. I was totally fantasizing about the cute pictures and videos we’d get of her hanging out with Mary and Joseph in the stable, her little wire halo askew. And I thought she would LOVE it. This is a girl who loves the spotlight. She sings more than she talks. Her natural form of locomotion is a sashay/kick ball change. And isn’t it our job as parents to give them experiences that will help them discover and develop their natural talents?

But maybe six years old is not developmentally ready to stand outside in the bitter cold for 5 hours dressed like an angel and singing Joy to the World over and over and over. Yes, over the past 48 hours I learned precisely why this event has been limited to teenagers in the past.

First, let me just say that we are having a record breaking cold spell here in North Georgia. Two days ago it never got above the freezing point – all day. That is very rare here, and one of the reasons I have chosen this area for my home. Bitter cold… remember that now. It’s important.

So Mini-Me was assigned to the final scene (#8)… the big climax when Mary and Joseph are in the stable, awaiting the birth of Baby Jesus so they can place him in the straw-filled manger. For whatever reason, the director of the event assigned me to be the “behind the scenes” adult for scene 5, in which Kind Herod tells the Magi to report back to him when they find the newborn King. I don’t know why I didn’t insist that I be assigned to the same scene as Mini-Me, except to say that when we arrived for the first practice three days ago and I saw what a hectic, disorganized cluster bonk this whole production was, I didn’t have the heart to make a special request to the clearly overwhelmed director who definitely had her hands full. Did I mention that there were 108 people involved in the show and that there were going to be live animals in some of the scenes?

Yeah. So, we showed up for the first practice on December 21st, which was just an indoor script run through. I figured I’d be pretty close by if Mini-Me needed me, and that the director must have had a reason for separating us, so I didn’t challenge it. Mistake #1.

That night we braved the mall crowds to purchase a halo and wings at a local party store. Shopping at this time of year is NOT for wimps. Further proof that crazy, overcompensating parents like me will do anything for our children. Oy.

The next night, December 22, we had our one dress rehearsal. I knew we would be outdoors from 5-7 PM and it was below freezing, so I dressed my little angel in lots of layers. Naturally, we were running late and I was scrambling to grab everything we needed and get her in the car with her white sheet and wings and halo. We were very rushed. This is nothing new for my kids, and they constantly impress me with their ability to quickly transition from one thing to another without fuss. They are pretty used to compensating for their crazy Mama. Really good kids.

So we got to the dress rehearsal and had to wait around for a long time in the social hall until our two scenes were rehearsed. We were totally overdressed in way too many layers to be inside, but I didn’t want to take any layers off since we’d be outside at any moment with snot-cicles forming from our noses. We were hot. We were cranky. And we were surrounded by about fifty other hot, cranky, undersupervised children running amok while their stage-motherish moms sat and gossiped and yelled things across the room like “Tyler! Stop hitting your brother with that stick! It is a shepherd’s staff… not a light saber!” It was pretty chaotic, and quite an anticlimactic “hurry up and wait” period of time.

At one point Mini-Me asked me, “What if I have to go to the bathroom?” To which I inquired, “Do you?” and she emphatically said, “No. Just wondering.”

“Are you sure? Because I can take you right now. There is a bathroom right over there. This would be the perfect time to go since we are just waiting around.”

“No Mama. I’m fine. I don’t have to go.” Mistake #2. Here’s a parenting tip for those of you as stupid as I am: never, never, never “ask” if they have to go when you have a calm minute before the storm. Just take their stubborn clueless ass into the nearest loo and force them to go. And if they ever randomly ask you anything potty-related, they are clearly thinking about it and therefore probably have to go. Duh. Still can’t believe what a moron I am. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Well, my scene was coming up, so I asked another Mom I knew there to keep an eye on my little angel while I was out blocking my scene, and she said she would and that her 11 year old daughter would help babysit. I introduced them all to each other and thought I had done my parenting part for the time being.

I went outside when my scene was called and stood around with the adorable Magi with the towels on their heads and the arrogant, uncostumed teen who played King Herod and didn’t even have the decency to know his lines or even have a script nearby from which to read. Sheesh. The “We Three Kings” CD that I would have to start and stop on cue wasn’t ready, the lighting wasn’t ready, and the kids were all very cold and unenthusiastic. We’d be doing this scene LIVE the next night for three and a half straight hours. I was definitely having my doubts as to how we would be able to pull this off.

I was only gone for about 20 minutes.

As I was walking back into the social hall the mother I had asked to keep an eye on Mini-Me approached me in nothing short of a panic.

“I’m so sorry!” she blurted. “I had to step out for my scene and my daughter didn’t realize that your daughter was in the bathroom.”

“What happened?” I tried to ask as calmly as possible. For Chrissakes – spit it out, woman! WHAT HAPPENED!

“Well apparently your daughter is in the bathroom crying. She’s been in there for about 20 minutes. She wet her pants. Poor thing, couldn’t get the angel costume off in time. She’s pretty upset.”

Oh shit.

I quietly knocked on the bathroom door and walked in, and there she was, standing above a puddle of pee, shaking and crying so hard that she was having a hard time catching her breath. Her eyes were red. Her cheeks were completely tear streaked and snot was running down her face. Her angel costume was completely in disarray, like she had truly put up a good fight trying to get it off so she could get to the toilet. I could see with one glance that she was utterly and completely humiliated.

My heart broke. Literally, I felt it seize up and shatter into a million little pieces.

I hugged her and rocked her and did a quiet “shh-shh-shh” in her ear for what seemed like a lifetime, brushing her hair out of her wet face with my hands and kissing her red cheeks. Her pants and long johns and socks and shoes were completely soaked through. She was cold and uncomfortable and frustrated. I wiped up the puddle on the floor as best as I could with paper towels and calmed her to the best of my ability, and then we exited the little powder room into the main social hall. The Mom I knew rushed up and apologized profusely. Naturally, I knew I didn’t have a change of clothes in my car, so there was no way to just clean her up and go on with the dress rehearsal. Besides, this poor little lamb was so far gone and distraught that I just wanted to get her home and into a hot bath.

Oh my God, the guilt. That poor child. She must have been so scared, standing alone in that bathroom for that long. How could I have left her like that? Why on Earth didn’t I have her go potty before we left? Why didn’t I insist that she go while we were waiting for our scenes? Why did I consent to be in a different scene from her? Why did I think that a six year old could handle an epic dramatic production? Why did God allow someone like me to breed? It is moments like this that make parents question everything.

Did Mini-Me recover? Did we return the next night to fulfill our destiny as part of the cast? Will I ever forgive myself for being such a shitty parent? Will I bring a tray of Vulva Candies to the cast party? Tune in next time for the dramatic conclusion to this intriguing tale of wonder and faith… The Bearded Iris’s Christmas Spectacular on Ice!

To read part 2 of this crazy tale, ASSuaging the Guilt, click here.

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