I have read some unpleasant posts recently from friends whose children have experienced bullying. It is anger-making to say the very least, as thoughtless actions and words can ruin lives. I keep a shrewd eye on the brief interactions my eldest has in the playground before school starts, but for those six hours in school, you have to put your faith in teachers and your own child’s spirit. This can all take a turn for the worse in secondary school, when more independence, social media access and the ever-increasing need to be ‘cool’ can turn a group of young people into a pack of wolves who don’t understand the impact of their actions.
When William was three he wanted a pair of tap shoes. I obliged, and he wore them in the garden, in the house, wherever he could. Yet, within a few months of starting school, this avenue of artistic exploration was shut down to him as he soaked in the general consensus of his peers. Dancing for boys was not an acceptable activity. At ten, he loves football, cricket, wrestling and rules. He is still my sensitive, dramatic and amusing chap, but his activities are overtly masculine. At drama, with me, he shines. And when you put music on in the house, he has exceptional rhythm and moves, for one so clumsy! I tell him all the time he should go to dance class, and in response I receive a look of disdain.
Indi now attends ballet and tap class, and started a few months ago. I watched him this morning, a solitary boy in the centre of a lilac leotard haze of graceful girls, and I shed a tear. You could see the enthusiasm in the execution of his ‘puppet’ exercise, which he has been practising at home all week. He spent half an hour practising ballet steps way too advanced for him in front of the TV last night. And when he gets ready for tap, he rips the shoes out of his bag exclaiming, ‘I love the way these sound!’
I wonder, if he was stay in school, whether there would come a time that the social pressure to be ‘boyish’ would result in him not wishing to attend class. Thankfully, at this point in his life, what other boys his age think won’t fall into his consciousness. He’ll hopefully just carry on happily expressing himself in as many ways as possible.
Anyway, it’s football club on Monday!