Thursday, 20 May 2010

My Billy Elliot boy

I love my boys, I really do, but I am just not interested in boyish pursuits. I have had boyfriends who required me to shiver beside a football pitch, or attempt to follow the score during interminable cricket games, even my normally quite reasonable husband is a devoted fan of F1, but to me it just sounds like angry wasps caught in a jar and is as interesting to watch. Whenever people stop me and say that I almost have enough boys to field a five-a-side team, I shudder in horror. None of my sons has shown that much interest in spending his time kicking a football about and I thank god for it.

The four-year-old does do a weekly football class, peopled exclusively by small boys and their football mad dads, who kit them out in the full strip of their favourite players, despite the fact that the ball skills taught amount to little more than tripping over the blasted thing as they charge around the hall. But he seems to devote far more time to gossiping with his friends than picking up the finer points of how to score a goal, and I am sure he thinks the main point of the exercise is to collect the sticker they give out at the end of the lesson each week. He has never shown any interest in watching football on TV and I doubt he could tell Arsenal from Manchester United, even if a sweet depended on it.

So my house full of boys isn't the sports dominated den some people seem to assume it will be. In fact the latest craze to hit his ballet. My eldest son asked, of his own free will I hasten to add, if he could try his hand (or should that be feet?) at ballet dancing. I jumped at the chance, here were classes I could identify with having shivered in my own pink tutu trying to master the first position in a draughty village hall.

As we drove to his first class I gave him a stern lecture about how he wasn't to be shy if the class was all girls, and that it is those who are strong enough to be different who thrive in life. He reassured me that he was still as keen as ever to learn how to dance, but inside I was terrified that he would take one look at all those tutus and run away in tears.

The mothers gathered outside were a shock to my system, rather than the rag tag dads who crowd the football and judo classes we normally attend, these were the coiffed yummy mummies I read so much about, dressed in skinny jeans and pretty pumps with their hair French pleated and luxuriously expensive scarfs wound around their willowy necks. Their little girls were floated around their legs like dainty fairies in their pink ballet skirts, hair sleekly pulled back in perfect round buns.

My son took one look at these alien beings and wound himself around my knees like a limpet. As I prised his frozen fingers off my far from skinny jeans, I felt so guilty as those perfect mummies looked aghast that another mother would force her son to do ballet classes. What was I thinking? Was I in the advanced clutches of gender disappointment and so desperate for a girl that I would make my son fill the role of my little girl and dance away to the Sugar Plum Fairy?

I felt the blushes rise hot and unwarranted. I wanted to shout "But he begged me to come", as my son wailed and screeched that he no desire to try ballet and could we just go home. A kindly teacher wrenched him from me and reassured me that all the boys are the same as she shooed me from the classroom.

I hovered by the window, aching to see him joining in, but hearing nothing but his inconsolable sobs. In the end I rushed off to the nearest coffee shop, unable to watch this torture any more. When I returned fortified by a cappuccino I found him skulking at the back of the class, but at least he was standing with them.

As I went in to collect him I will admit to heaving a sigh of relief that this was the end of ballet, and we would never again have to run the gauntlet of those delicate dancing mums and their pretty little daughters. That is until he looked up at me with tear streaked eyes, gave a huge grin and said "I love ballet mummy". So there we were next week, my little Billy Elliot and me, and yah boo sucks to all those people who told me all I would ever do was freeze beside a football pitch with my brood of little boys.


  1. My boy has done tap dancing and gymnastics (to competition standard) and loved both :D He specifically asked to do them.

    He is having a typical 10 year old hiatus at the moment but has realised that the grass definitely isn't greener on the other side and has expressed a wish to return.

    As long as they're happy, who cares :D

  2. My nephew does ballet and absolutely loves it - I think he is the only boy in the class. I think it's great!

  3. Ya boo sucks indeed. Great for the boy, and to know how to dance is such a great skill for a man. I think this is fab!

  4. I am looking forward to seeing him in his sailor suit at his ballet recital in July!