Why I’m Proud My Daughter Wanted To Be A King In Her School Nativity

When the parent mail pounced on my inbox, I sighed.  “Reception Nativity Costumes”, it said. Of course, many reception parents delight in the excitement of the first nativity play.  As a mum of three, I’ve seen a fair few.  We’ve also had the chaos of costumes mixed in with two autistic boys.  At least that won’t be the case with Jane, I smiled to myself as I opened up the email.  So true; in fact, Jane’s costume chaos cheered me up no end.

There was little to note in the email except for the announcement of potential ‘roles’.  In a rather mad moment, the reception teacher allowed the children (or more likely, their parents) to choose from a range of characters which they would need to provide costumes for.

“We are giving the children the choice of their costume from the following options:

All costumes can be for either girls or boys! On the classroom door there will be a sign-up sheet on Monday morning – please write down your child’s name next to which costume they will be in.”

I had a quick think about what we had in the dressing-up box and what costumes I’d previously created for the boys. I figured I could manage to cobble something together for whatever Jane chose and then didn’t think anything else about it until that Monday.

As we approached the class that day, there was a small hoard of women clutching pencils and pens crowding around a piece of A4 paper attached to one of the double glass doors leading into the classroom. Jane and I shuffled around them and I clocked the title: ‘Nativity Sign Up Sheet’. Immediately I remembered I hadn’t asked Jane about it at all.

The hoard cleared as Jane got to the door and made her way to her peg to hang up her coat.  As I looked up at the onslaught I saw all the angel slots had been taken by girls and only one star slot remained. There was a sign up from three boys on the Kings section and no one was a Shepherd.

Now, had I asked Jane over the weekend what she would have liked to have been, I honestly would have guessed she would have chosen to be an angel. She’s into sparkle and dresses so that seemed a match.  But now given that being an angel was no longer a possibility and with only one star slot open, I signalled to Jane from the door and got down on my knees for a super quick (as it was nearly time for the register) parent-kiddie conference.

“Jane, what do you want to be in the Christmas play?  You can be a star, a shepherd or a king?”, I asked super quickly and quietly.

Jane thought for a second, and as she did I felt a body lean over my head.  I looked up and saw a parent scribble their child’s name against the last star slot. I winced.

Jane beckoned me close and whispered in my ear, “A king.”

“OK, a king it is”, I whispered back, relieved that she had not chosen a star.

As I wrote her name next to the three boys I smiled.

At pick-up that afternoon, Jane came out as she always does, with a big smile. Then her face dropped as she remembered her day and she commented sadly, “Mary said I can’t be a king because kings are boys.”

“You can be whatever you want to be, Jane”, I said.  She agreed.

Unfortunately in car and before we’d got home, Anthony, Jane’s eldest and autistic brother, declared that Mary was right.  Kings are male.  So I set about sorting this out.

Firstly, I tackled it from the ‘acting’ point of view.  In Shakespeare plays, which Anthony has recently studied in class, all the roles, both male and female were played by men.  Then in many pantomimes, the hero role is often played by a woman.  I saw several female Peter Pans when I was younger.  Anthony, thought this was daft and funny, eventually resorting back to the actual fact that kings are men.

I was busy thinking that the school should perhaps have listed wise persons instead of kings.  I thought I might mention about the whole girls liking angels but most of the angels in the Bible have masculine names, Gabriel for example.  But Jane didn’t need any of my support.  She already had this whole thing in hand.

’It’s just silly.  Kings and Queens are just the same thing”, she said.

“That’s right..” says I, ”..they are both monarchs.”

Jane looked at me oddly.

“They both help people and help things be better”, she corrected me.  “That’s why I wanted to be a king.  Well, and I like sparkly things and they wear crowns.”

I beamed.

Anthony agreed.

And the car was a happy place with just the joyous sounds of David, my middle son, giggling as he played with his iPad in the back of the car.

Now, I know Jane’s perception may not ben quite right, but it’s the principle I liked.  Later I wondered if Jane’s desire to be someone who helps others stems from her being a young siblings to two boys with autism and special educational needs.  She undoubtedly looks out for them, me and others.

The idea of Syrian children being cold this winter, as per the news, shocked both Anthony and Jane.  Anthony is just about at the point of understanding why we give to charity but Jane doesn’t understand why we can’t just share with everyone.

My little girl is growing up fast.  Creating her own opinions, thoughts and ideas.  She’s already turning into a wonderful human being, and I couldn’t be more proud of my little angel king, in her (no doubt) sparkly crown.

This post originally appeared on Rainbows are too beautiful.