Primary pastimes

shiny new ballet shoes

Hannah did her first ballet exam today. In fact it was her first ever exam.

She was excited and a little hysterical while leaping about with her friends before going in. I insisted on half an hour without handstands so her hair had a fair chance of remaining stuck in the precarious bun I’d achieved with copious squirts of hairspray, a hairnet and a packet of grips.

When I asked her afterwards how it had been, she said,

“It was scary, I had flutterbies.”

“And did you enjoy it, or are you glad it’s over?”

“A bit of both,” she said. So it wasn’t too bad then.

We didn’t talk about it, or indeed practice it, much beforehand, as I didn’t want to her to worry, but she must have thought about it, as when she got up this morning she said,

“I wish my exam was over.”

So now she’s in Grade 1, assuming she passes, and her teacher never puts children in for their exams unless she’s sure they are going to pass. Just like the rest of us, she has her stats to consider.

Hannah is proud that she’s done an exam, “without anybody watching”.

I’m hoping she loses interest before she hits her teens, when too much ballet can leave a legacy of body dismorphia that’s hard to shake. And it’s pretty obvious that she’s not going to develop naturally into a lettuce-liking, tissue-munching, chain-smoking, pencil-thin ballerina.

I think, in honour of Wimbledon, we’ll go for tennis instead.
There’s more money in it, you need a bit of meat and muscle to play well, and you can enjoy a game or two well into your eighties.

All we need to do now is morph into tennis-parents.
We own a racket each and we like to win, but that’s about as far as it goes.

About Beta Mum

Here you can find the ramblings of a trapeze artist turned journalist who ran away from the circus to join the BBC. Cathy "mine's a Kir Royale" Keir then spent thirteen years working in Jersey, Guernsey and Devon, before downgrading to what you see before you. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, The Stage and Television Today, Junior Magazine and both the BBC and Bad Mothers Club websites. She has two children who think women can’t be prime ministers. She blames herself.
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7 Responses to Primary pastimes

  1. Iota says:

    You own a racket. I bet you don’t own ballet shoes. I predict that tennis has a fighting chance.

  2. Sharon Pavey says:

    My daughter Natahsa also does dance classes, but no longer ballet which is a relief as she was never the slimmest girl in her class at age 3 and even then you could pick out the prima donna’s, with perfectly pinned up hair, delicate poise and the latest accessories etc! I’ve also been toying with picking up a kid’s racket (or bat as she called it when we were watching Wimbledon the other day!) for her. Darcy Bussell I think not but I could see her sharing my admiration for Serena – especially fighting through that match the other day, injured and all. Go tennis! Have you heard about the campaign to make all UK municipal courts free? I think it’s http://www.tennisforfree.com

  3. Beta Mum says:

    Iota – actually I do own ballet shoes as well as a racket! I go to adult ballet classes when I can. I still love it, but I think tennis is a better sport for lifelong health.

    Sharon – welcome. I’ll take a look at the tennis site. I know 2 of the municipal courts around here are free, and one is even well maintained; not always the case with free facilities.

  4. Well done, Hannah. And you too, Beta Mum! I did ballet for a while as a kid, it helped me with my posture, though I still cringe at memory of messing up one part of a dance in front of all the parents, while dressed as a little Dutch girl.

  5. Omega Mummy says:

    So did you do ballet? And is it the eating business that makes it such a problem or the focus on your body the entire time?

  6. Beta Mum says:

    MatL – my mum remembers one dress rehearsal at which I refused to do my dance because there were people watching. I was OK once it got to the stage though, as I couldn’t see them!

    Omega – I did ballet and lots of it, despite it being obvious from age 13 or so that skinniness was not to be one of my natural qualities. I think it’s all the mirrors, the knowledge that a specific body shape is needed to be a ballet dancer, combined with the general insecurities of being a teenager.
    I did love to dance though, and still do.

  7. Polly Jane says:

    Well done Hannah! My daughter is about to graduate next week; though she is considerably older and it’s not from ballet! My own graduation doesn’t feel like very long ago myself. Time does fly!
    I too love to dance, but let’s say I prefer to ‘freestyle’ more than anything.

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