Don't put your daughter on the stage Mrs Clark! Too late. My eldest is in a show as I type. Again. So far this year she has been a dancer in Mother Goose, a workhouse child in Oliver, Blousey Brown in Bugsy Malone and now a Perks child in The Railway Children. After Christmas she has auditioned for and got parts in The Chrysalids, Dick Whittington and the school play.
And so, after two months of rehearsals four or five times a week she is now performing every other night for a fortnight. On the nights when she is not on stage she is rehearsing for something else which slots neatly between shows this weekend. On top of this she plays saxophone, does ballet, modern and tap dancing and plays netball and hockey for school. And then she goes to school.
Tonight, whilst she was practising her song for Sunday, the woman at the drama school told me that I really should consider getting singing lessons for her.
I mention all this not because I want to show off about her achievements. I am immensely proud of her but there are plenty of children with similar schedules around here. No, the issue is what, as her mother, is my role here? Where is the line between affording my child all the opportunities that present themselves and making sure that she is not exhausting herself and thus allowing her school work to suffer? I am not really sure. Should I stop her, make her slow down, forbid her from auditioning? I already keep some shows quiet from her to reduce her commitments and I feel bad about that because she would audition for everything that came her way if it were up to her. But school is far more important than her extra curricular stuff. So far she is doing really well there too and her tutor is in the current play with her which means she is completely aware of what she is up to.But how long can she keep going at this pace? And should I really be worried or just go with the flow until something gives?
I also have the other children to consider. Whilst not quite as busy, they too have lots of things that they enjoy doing outside school. But if I am not careful they will never all be at home at the same time and my whole life will be subsumed by ferrying children around Ilkley. And, having afforded the eldest the opportunities, I believe that I owe it to the other three to give them the same chances as and when they arise.
I suspect that the way forward is to let her keep going until she reaches a point where she can't cope and then to take her foot off the pedal for her. At the moment there is no sign of that point even being on the horizon.
So we get three weeks off before the next lot of rehearsals start. I shall relish them, then keep on keeping on and hope that I am doing the right thing.