Bemused Parent: Entry 4

It’s the time of year when parents hold their breath in anticipation of their child’s brilliant star turn in the limelight. A scenario not entirely unlike The Three Kings follows. First, a sense of waiting – contemplating which performance will be chosen by teachers. Then eyeing up the potential “rivals” of the cast but of course it’s all good spirited fun. Finally, the bright star alights over your child as they are the one to bring meaning to this Christmas stage. You’re ready to watch and adore them.

Tonight’s the night for Ada. She’s a narrator this year, with five lines to say – speaking words that she was asked to choose herself. I’m bursting with pride that she’s the narrator who welcomes the parents to the Christmas play. But on the other hand which high learning potential (HLP) trait makes narrating a possible disaster waiting to happen? By inviting Ada to write her own script, that gives leeway to the HLP child’s inbuilt desire to ad-lib comments: “Did you know that the star of Bethlehem was really a planetary conjunction?” In Year 4 she told a bewildered class that stars wobble.

But it’s often the non-speaking parts that are the most memorable. (Remember the lobsters in “Love, Actually”?) HLP kids don’t always want the part that they are actually given. Ada has been a dancing reindeer (solo part) which was substituted from dancing present in a group. I doubt that even Kylie Minogue would look glamorous spinning around in a tinfoil covered cardboard box. When my friend’s highly musical son was five, he desperately yearned to be the star of the show, a singing cat. Year 1 had to sing carols only dressed as farm animals. Consequently Friend’s Son refused to sing his own year group’s songs but being a fast learner learnt all the older children’s’ ditties and mouthed the lyrics. He looked grumpy throughout even though he did at least wear cat ears. Now aged 11, Friend’s Son is the youngest trumpet player in his band, a privilege much resented by the 15 year old who sits next to him. But these days, at least his home-edder status gives Friend’s Son a sense of calm about what each year’s Christmas show will bring. No more being prodded to stand still, nor repeat rehearsals and a teaching assistant glaring because they think he’s out of tune (someone else is singing off-key because they’re  bored).

In Ada’s first year of junior school, Year 3 performed an excellent modern Nativity with lines written by the older kids. On that occasion Ada was the Emperor Augustus, acting with gusto: “I’ll make lots of money, mwahahah” except she became embroiled in an argument with King Herod, who calmly informed her that “A king is better than an emperor”. Out came the atlas. “Did Emperor Augustus conquer Egypt, Rome and Raetia? He would have had hundreds more palaces than Herod! Because I know that I should be the Emperor!”

With performing there can also be a tendency to worry; speculation about what might go wrong, or over-analysing a role. Ada insists that she needs to have her lines written down, even though I know that excellent working memory can learn those words in a few minutes. And then the tummy pains start, along with questions about what happens if the words don’t come out properly. I reassure her, but with fingers crossed behind my back.

Postfix: The morning after!

Yay, it was a very jolly Christmas production with excellent renditions by all the children. Ada had the biggest smile and recited without any controversy, but she hasn’t forgiven her Dad for stealing the limelight. I don’t think he meant to lean on the school hall light switch which meant a prematurely bright end to the starry night scenes. At least her Dad wasn’t the man in front of me, clucking along fortissimo to the lines “three French hens” in the parent sing-along. Oh well, time to think about a quiet Christmas. Peace and goodwill to all in the HLP world!


In this series we mine the wealth of lived experience and invite members to share their thoughts with us – perhaps through an article, advice, sharing their careers, a piece of fiction or a poem. The HLP Diaries are fictional tales of parenting children with high learning potential. If you are a Potential Plus UK member and have an anecdote you would like to share then we’d love to hear from you: email