Expectation Vs Reality: The Joy Of Your Kid's End Of Year School Concert

You know that sweet Christmas concert scene in Love Actually?

The one where children dressed as nativity sea creatures perform Catch a Falling Star?

They’re all so cute -- particularly the one with the Spiderman face paint.

Then a pitch-perfect kid belts out a Mariah Carey classic, and Hugh Grant as prime minister is caught pashing his gorgeous catering manager. It’s funny and romantic and Christmassy, and every time I watch it I sigh a lot and become all nostalgic about school concerts.

Then I attend my own children’s school concert, and I remember that real life is not a movie, not even close.

There is a hiccup before the event even begins: due to inclement weather (a typical summer’s day requiring tights, an umbrella and -- honestly, wtf -- sunscreen) the venue is changed. I receive a text message that explains how I must now drive to a school in the next suburb.

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My children tell me, on the way, that they are vaguely supposed to be wearing festive costumes. Unfortunately, I don’t keep emergency tinsel in the glovebox, so they have to go as they are -- scruffy.

No emergency tinsel in sight. (Image: Getty)

We arrive on time and I do an unbelievable parallel park. I don’t know it at the time, but this is the highlight of the evening.

First up: the preps. The music is louder than their tiny voices. I become bored instantly. Several parents in front of me hold up their phones to film the heads of the people sitting in front of them their beautiful children singing Away in a Manger.

Because everyone knows IF YOU DON’T FILM IT, IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.

Down in front. (Image: Getty)

Next: I’m not sure. Some grade twos? Fortunately, my working-late husband arrives at this very moment, so I am able to pass the time by whispering my exciting news -- how I got some cheap Lego at Big W due to a pricing error -- and viewing his video of sheep standing in a paddock.

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Then there are some keen grade sixers who sing enthusiastically until they get to the verse none of them know, and then there’s another group of kids, and another …

Riveting alternative entertainment option. (Image: Getty)

And finally, it’s intermission! This is all about the sausage sizzle. We queue for some time -- possibly several hours, I’m not sure -- and make it to the kiosk counter just as the sausages run out and the second half of the concert begins. “There are more coming,” the sausage cook assures us. “They’re being barbequed out in the rain.”

“I’m staying right here, until I get a charred and damp snag!” my husband declares. Frankly, I am happy to be missing the next song.

The queue for the sausages may have actually been a time vortex. (Image: Getty)

We manage to give our children their nutritious “dinner” (sausages) just before they both have to be on stage. Later, my son admits that he popped his on the floor while he sang, and my daughter tells us that she stuffed hers into her pocket.

Damp but edible? Especially if stored in your pocket. (Image: Getty)

I don’t actually get to see either kid performing due to the multitude of phones being held aloft between my eyes and the stage. It doesn’t matter -- I’m pretty sure they’re both miming anyway (and also, they don’t have reindeer-antler headbands or “HO HO HO” t-shirts like their classmates – how un-festive).

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The evening ends with an insanely chaotic visit from “Santa”, who mysteriously has the same gait and voice as the deputy principal. Over 300 kids rush at him to get a candy cane -- how nobody is crushed in the stampede, I don’t know.

Dave is that you?  (Image: Getty)

I feel relieved to get home. When the kids are out of earshot, I say to my husband, “Do you think any parents genuinely enjoy school concerts? Or would they rather be at home watching the cricket?”

“Let’s never go to one again!” he says, turning the cricket on. “Not until next Christmas, anyway.”

I collapse on the couch. “Hey, I did an excellent parallel park tonight,” I say. “If only I’d filmed it …”