It has taken me months to get over it. I think that our son recovered more quickly than I did; but then who knows what psychological damage has been done which might only emerge later: a profound mistrust of authority, trauma triggered by a distinct type of accent, or flashbacks revisiting how teachers publicly humiliated him, betrayed his confidence or did him physical harm. Meanwhile, I have been raging, silently and not so silently. I have told the story to anyone who will listen. I have experienced paranoid fantasies, imagining myself getting beaten up by thugs employed by Illuminati of the ballet world. Please don’t laugh - stranger things have happened at ballet companies in Moscow or New York. I’ve never watched Black Swan, and I don’t think it is going to make it onto my Netflix watchlist anytime soon. The grace and elegance is a thin veil to a reality of ballet thuggery and brutality. I think an increasing number of people now understand this to be the case.
It is now over, however. It has to be. I am confident that I received a satisfactory result from the school and that they have been suitably inconvenienced by the number of reports I filed to various government and non-government bodies. In the last few months they have been inspected up the ying-yang, and I am confident that there is more to come. In fact, I don’t think that the school management are fully aware of the chaos I have legitimately unleashed. But, I am beyond caring. I have had to find a sense of inner resolve and peace before I risk one of two things happening:
So, this is the plan: I am going to resolutely and purposefully move forward. I am going to resist the temptation to write any more about our conflict with the Ballet School, or, indeed, mention the school at all. They will have no further part in our narrative, from now onwards. I am now in the correct mindset to make this assurance to you. There may be times when I am tempted, but I promise that you will not be reading anything else about the Ballet School in these pages - not even in comparative terms: what we do now verses what we did then. There are many other interesting things to concentrate on: homeschooling, our child’s growing independence, his unique and (hopefully) highly effective ballet training, We have either been very brave or incredibly stupid. Deciding to ‘go it alone’ in terms of his ballet training is a terrifying, life enhancing, ongoing adventure. We are all convinced now that the ballet school model of training from age eleven is not the best way to train dancers vocationally. In fact we believe that it is harmful in the cases of many children. But, rather than have this debate, I would rather just leave Ballet Schools out of the narrative altogether, and share with you what we have learned along the way.
I’ve worked hard at finding resolve. The sense of injustice is huge: the cause is the school’s arrogance - ‘we’ve done nothing wrong, but here’s a bundle of cash and some apology letters, anyway’. Harm is still being done - these people are still in employment - but it is now someone else’s fight. They no longer matter to me. Our son is no longer there; other parents can take up the mantle if they have the courage to. The person whom I feel most resentment towards is the ‘coked-up banshee’ of our story because she is actually paid to keep children safe. She is the person who deserves to be exposed and dealt with most urgently. The Buddhist in me advises to let my anger go, as she is just an ignorant person whose ignorance will mean that she continues to do harm. The Catholic in me advises that there is a very special room in Hell waiting just for her, and surely one next door for her little side-kick. Either way, the fact that she is beyond redemption brings with it its own unique reward - or punishment - and satisfaction. I can now just let it go. I am grateful. The school has done us the most terrific favour. By making it untenable for him to continue, we have had the opportunity to remove him from harm, and meeting his needs has been a rewarding experience for all of us. In fact, it has been a privilege. We have learned so much, and our child is so happy, and this brings abundant benefit.
We’ve now been home schooling for nearly a year. I have much to report: mistakes we’ve made; successes we’ve had; everything we have learned about the teaching of ballet; inspirational people we have met.
However, as I continue, my greatest hope is that the original tone of the blog returns - I originally started writing all this to entertain you, and make you laugh. Let’s go on as we began ...
Next time: TPI - Total Parental Involvement