Last week there was a segment on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 show where parents were discussing the alcoholic drinks they had smuggled into various school halls to get them through the hell of watching another kids’ performance. It was all very light hearted and did make me laugh (there’s little more mind numbing than watching other people’s children) but it also made me a little sad.
You see my seven-year-old refuses to let me, her dad or anyone else she knows watch her on stage. I have crouched at the back when she has performed in the school nativity, hidden between pews during the harvest festival and been banished to the wings for her annual dance shows. Not been allowed to be included really hurts. I thought watching the school play, the choir recitals and the two left-footed dance shows would be all part of the joy of being a parent for me and my husband. We want to be a part of her new adventures and show how proud we are. Instead we have to drop her at the door and leave or is some cases literally turn our backs until she has finished (cue some very odd looks at the village fete when her hip hop class took it the stage).
This stage fright even extends to her swimming lessons – I am the only person allowed to sit on the side of the pool as she slowly but surely learns her strokes. If ever I can’t take her she will only get into the water if her dad or grandparents leave once they have handed her over to the teacher.
It sounds indulgent but I really don’t know what to do. One year we decided to be brave and me and my husband sat (unannounced) in the audience of the school nativity play. All was going well until she spotted us and then the tears started and her sobbing ‘we wish you a merry Christmas’ became the talk of the school gate! So now every year I have to explain to her teachers that we aren’t an unsupportive family, in fact we are giving the best support we can by not being there.
Next Saturday is her annual dance recital – which is meant to be a chance for us parents to see what the girls get up to in class. There’s no costumes, no big numbers in fact it’s pretty low key but as ever we have been banned. It breaks my heart that we can’t be there with all the other proud parents but if it’s a choice between seeing her confidence grow a little by getting on stage and missing out or her refusing to take to the stage I know what we have to do. I do wish one day we will be able to stand and cheer with the other families.
Has anyone else experienced this situation – I’d love some advice or suggestions about combating it.