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The Littlest Angel, The Biggest Ham

It’s Christmas pageant time, and
Maddie is once again preparing for her role as an angel in our
church’s Christmas eve service. You may recall that last year
Maddie approached the event with great trepidation, only to find
the spotlight so enchanting she broke into an impromptu dance solo
in the middle of the nativity scene, complete with curtsey at the
end. Got it on video, dontcha know.

This year, Maddie is calm and confident and ready to reprise her
role. And this year, it’ll be a family act.

Sunday morning in the middle of church,
Cora declared that she, too, will be in the pageant this year. But
not for her the typical role for toddlers her age – sheep,
donkey, cow, whatever animal Halloween costume the mom might have
– no, Cora is going to be an angel like her sissy. Maddie
took Cora’s face solemnly in her hands and said, “Cora,
are you speaking truthfully? Do you really want to be an angel and
will you really commit?”

Cora nodded her head.

“Then today,” Maddie said grimly, “we

And Sunday evening both girls put on angel costumes and spent half
an hour working on the set dance, preparing for Monday’s big
full-cast rehearsal for the pageant. The pageant director had
kindly agreed to let Cora squeeze in at the last minute, never mind
that she’d not been to any of the four rehearsals.

For my part, I nodded calmly and went along with the whole thing,
confident Cora would back out at the last minute. This is the child
who won’t let mommy go into another room to pee, let alone
sit in the audience several yards away. I explained thoroughly to
Cora that Mommy would not be on stage with her, and Cora nodded and
went back to her flitting practice.

Yesterday morning I took the girls to pageant rehearsal thinking
this would be over in about five minutes for Cora. Practicing with
Maddie is one thing; taking direction from a stranger with Mommy
nowhere around is something else entirely. And indeed, we arrived
and were handed costumes and taken into the practice theatre, where
Cora quickly blanched and refused to put on her costume or go

“It’s ok,” I soothed, “You don’t have
to be in this if you don’t want to.” Cora watched
Maddie throw on her costume and wings and fly onstage to play with
friends. My youngest crept to the edge of the stage and watched,
then turned around and came back. “Maybe I’ll just put
on the costume.”

Ten minutes and several baby steps later, Cora was in the midst of
the other angels, all four- and five-year-old girls. And I have to
tell you, completely unbiased, that my little two-year-old rocked
the house. She learned all the choreography, paid attention,
watched closely, and never once looked back. They ran that number a
good ten times, and she never got bored, never ran out of steam. My
kid was twirling and waving and singing as if she’d been born
on that stage. Sure, Maddie took her hand and led her around a bit,
but Cora’s shyness and clinginess were completely gone.

After they’d been practicing almost an hour with no break and
no sign from Cora of wanting to stop, I leaned over to my mom and
said, “I think we’ve found the way to make Cora want to
go to school without me. Just make the entire school day into a
musical and let her be onstage the whole time. She’ll never
notice I’m not there.”

There’s a private school somewhere that does this, no?

So there you have it – my two-year-old, bitten by the stage
bug, but bad. When push comes to shove and there’s a big bad
audience out there, will she go on? Who knows. Realistically,
I’ll probably put her in her costume, stand in the wings, and
have her turn in panic and crawl up my body to cling to my neck
like a monkey. I’m ok with that; I’m just so proud she
forgot her shyness long enough to have fun Monday morning.

On the other hand, you never can tell with the Milner girls, so if
you’re coming to the Christmas pageant on Thursday, may I
suggest you bring your video camera.


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