Sunday evening was spent at church for our annual Christmas play. Because we had so many children wishing to participate this year, our director had placed masking tape name tags on the floor of the stage so each child knew where to stand. All of the children were dressed in white and held flashlights, as they were depicting the stars in the sky.
Working with young children can be challenging, and this play was no exception. For example, about halfway through, some of the kids became a bit restless, and the flashlights started going wild. There may have even been some light-saber action going on at one point. Also, when the three wise men came walking in, one little girl loudly whispered, “Look, Daddy! Here come the camels!” before resuming her place on stage. Best ad lib ever, I might add.
My middle daughter sang a solo about how wonderful it was to be chosen as the Star of Bethlehem that led the aforementioned wise men to the manger where the Savior of the World was sleeping. She did a nice job. All of the kids with speaking parts remembered their lines. It was a great play, and all of those involved deserved the round of applause that was offered to them.
Afterward, my two youngest kids went to help clean up the stage and put the props away. They were exuding good manners and a general sense of helpfulness. I was just beginning to feel all warm and fuzzy about their efforts when I saw those good-natured sprites disappear and my actual ornery children return.
My daughter, still wearing all white, was helping to remove the masking tape placeholders from the stage floor. My son called out, “I’ll help you do that.”
“No, I’ve got it,” she replied.
The race was on. For who-knows-what reason, they had decided that they had to remove more tape than the other one. She ripped one piece up, and he another.
“I’m beating you,” he taunted.
“Nuh-uh,” she replied, “I’m beating you.”
As I watched from 15 feet away, they arrived at the last piece of tape. As my daughter began to peel it up, my son did the unthinkable. He leapt – literally flew through the air – and landed on her back to knock her away from the tape. They rolled across the stage.
Then, since he ended up on top, he began to crawl back to the tape. She grabbed his leg and dragged him backward, flinging herself forward at the same time. In a veritable WWE move, he hooked his leg around her waist and slapped her hands away. (Way to remember the reason for the season, guys.)
The match continued. I moved toward them, ready to grab them both by the ears and scold them furiously. But before I could get there, I saw that they both had a grip on the tape, and just as it would have done in a movie, it tore in half, plopping them each backward onto their butts. To my immense surprise, they were both laughing heartily.
Then my daughter stood up and said, “That was totally awesome.”
He replied, “Yeah, that was really fun. Bet I can throw my tape away before you can.”
“Nuh-uh,” she replied. “I’ll beat you.”
Then she pushed him back to his butt and took off running. The warm and fuzzy moment was long gone, and the race was on again.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.