I think my daughter and I have a healthy relationship. Possibly the most unhealthy thing about it is how much I worry…about everything! As Beth is growing up, she is at a stage where she is full of ideas and motivation for new things and wants to try everything. Not only do we not have the time and money for a pony, a private singing teacher, Piano lessons, Drama Club, Gardening Group and Ballet Class; but we are not prepared to put our child under the pressure that goes with having so many extra-curricular activities.
Currently Beth attends Drama Club, has Ballet lessons, is learning to play the Clarinet and has just joined her school’s Cross-Country running Group. All of which have been her choice and will stop should she ever want them to. Beth is such a performer and has a lovely singing voice; I have often looked at the long list of lessons available at her Dance School and wondered if we should enrol her in the Musical Theatre lessons, hire a singing coach or enrol her in Jazz and Tap aswell as Ballet. I was given little encouragement with extra curricular interests; should we be pushing her more?
Yesterday I had a conversation with one of the Mum’s from the dance school which confirmed to me that we should NOT be pushing her more. I hate to question the judgement of other Mothers but in this case it is difficult not to and I like this lady and I know that she probably thinks she is just being supportive to her daughter, which makes it even harder. This Saturday whilst waiting for my daughter’s Ballet lesson, we were peeping in at the lesson before, a musical theatre lesson. The children we’re doing so well and really giving it their all … except hers.
Tapping on the window she berated her child. ‘She always messes around, she says she feels silly’. Moments later after a private singing lesson, private ballet lesson, a tap lesson and a musical theatre lesson, the 10 year old girl was slowly getting changed, much to her Mother’s dismay. She was going to be late for her next lesson, though goodness knows what that possibly could’ve been!?
The little girl said she was exhausted and begged her Mother not to make her attend the next class. Sadly it fell on deaf ears and she was marched towards her next teacher and told to smile ‘properly’.
This exchange sums up everything I dislike about ‘Stage Mums’ (or Moms if you’re across the pond!). Unlike many people I have no issue with little girls having pierced ears (though I don’t like it on toddlers :-S sorry but I just don’t), wearing girly outfits or playing around with a little make-up (emphasis on the word playing and little!). Make-up is fun, dance outfits are crazy and colourful and wanting earrings comes largely from wanting to be like their Mummys. I see no harm in it, it’s the desperate drive to achieve and the constant pushing I dislike.
You see it on TV, where the Mum forces the heavily made up toddler onto a pageant stage against their wishes and right on cue they force a smile. What are these Stage Mums teaching their daughters about life? That you HAVE to do things that make you feel uncomfortable or that you dislike ? That no matter how unhappy you are you must smile and be perfect?
That is not the lesson I want to impart upon my child. I want her to know that she is perfect just the way that she is, that although her talents are gifts and shouldn’t be wasted, she is a winner and a success before she begins. I want her to feel beautiful with or without the lipstick and sequins and confident enough to say no and know that her wishes will be respected. Most of all, I want my little girl’s smiles to be REAL.