You want the best for your children. They lie there in your arms but a few hours old and you promise them the world, that you will move heaven and earth to make sure that they are happy. But can you deliver? When push comes to shove, what do you do when what would make your child happy doesn’t accord with what you want?
We have a storm brewing in our house. I can see it hanging dark and heavy on the periphery of my world. So far it has sent a few rain showers to spoil the sunshine but I can see that that is only the precursor for what is to come.
As you may have gathered my children like to perform and I have encouraged that. I was the same when I was young so I can understand what drives them and I think it’s good for their self discipline, sense of team and inner confidence to be on a stage with a group of people who are all relying on them. My eldest is particularly driven by the smell of greasepaint and the roar of the crowd. She adores acting, dancing, singing, playing – anything that puts her on a stage.
And here comes the conflict. She bounded in from rehearsal for the drama class Christmas show, full of excitement, her eyes shining.
“Guess what we’re doing for the Spring Show?!”
My heart is already sinking. She is currently in rehearsal for three shows due to hit the stage in December, February and March.
“I don’t know Sweetie. What?” I enquire, smiling weakly. You see, I have already decided that, come what may, she won’t be auditioning.
“It’s ‘Billy Elliot’! My favourite show ever. And it’s dancing as well as singing. How fantastic is that!” And then she’s off, pirouetting around the sitting room, already in the glare of the spotlights in her imagination.
But we can’t do another show. She will have done five this academic year before we even get to Easter. As I’ve said before, the children do lots of extra curricular stuff and that’s fine but rehearsals take up endless evenings on top and precious family time at weekends which means that it’s hard to find time to do things together. For example, we do not have a block of time this year when all six of us are in to put up the Christmas tree together.
So I struggle with my conscience, what I want and she wants in direct opposition. I can’t even use her school work as an excuse. I received an email from her head of year telling me that she was one of only seven children in her year group to get “Exceeding expectations” in every subject on her report. I am certain she could do the show and still cope.
But what about the rest of us? We have been in constant rehearsals since the end of September. I cannot remember the last time we had a Sunday together as a family. My husband and I rarely go out together as we are always collecting from some hall or other late into the night. Everyone’s lives are compromised by her drive to perform. And yet, I promised that I would do everything I could for her when she was a baby. Perhaps that should include ensuring that we have a harmonious home life and time for everyone else to draw breath?
The row will come as soon as the audition notices go up. I will have to stand firm. She will look at me with tears in those big brown eyes and plead and every part of my heart will long to say yes. But my head, for the sake of the rest of us, will have to say no.