Thursday, 18 December 2008

An addition to the funny Nativity play stable

Pun intended.

My friend and I were chatting, as you do when you need to catalogue a book titled Civil society and international development and are desperately trying to avoid correcting the somewhat crap record.

She told me a story passed on by a friend whose colleague had been to his child's Nativity play:

There was a child with autism playing the innkeeper. During Monday afternoon's dress rehearsal, Mary & Joseph knocked on the door and asked if there was any room at the inn. The innkeeper repeated his line perfectly, saying, "No I'm sorry."

On the Tuesday night, which was the actual performance, Mary & Joseph duly went up to the inn and knocked on the door, which was then opened by the innkeeper:

Joseph: Is there any room at the inn?

Innkeeper: No there isn't, and I told you that last night, so fuck off!

Now, I couldn't stop laughing, and am still having trouble keeping a straight face. After all, one can hear so many children saying that after far too many rehearsals. One can also hear the actual innkeeper saying that, after trooping down to the door to answer the gazillionth knock, thinking, "Bloody !"£$%^&*()(*&^%$£ census!"

But here, there's a point to be made. We often forget that things we take for granted need to be explained. In this case, it's obvious: autistic children take things *literally*, so the concept of a play and having to repeat the same line over because it's 'make-believe' needed to be explained clearly to the young lad playing the innkeeper. He did nothing wrong; he was just living his role.

Albeit less obviously than the young innkeeper, we all live our roles - those we choose for ourselves and those placed on us by others. And in our lives, the need to be clear can be equally obscure. We need to remember that others don't live in our heads, don't think the same way we do, and that needing to explain things outside the normal societal consensus (e.g., what we're upset about, what's going on in our heads) is *natural* and doesn't mean that someone else doesn't care. Then we need to remember to listen when others are trying to explain to us.

That's the power of love.

Fitting lesson from a Nativity play, non?

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