A Different Rhythm
Within ten minutes of him being home for the Easter holidays, he disappeared. His sister went looking for him, and returned perplexed. She assured me that they hadn't begun a game of hide and seek, but she couldn't find him anywhere. Perhaps, he just needed to experience the luxury of solitude after ten weeks of communal living, or perhaps he was sobbing to himself - a character in a Victorian novel - at the cruelty of being sent away to train as a performer for the financial and cultural elite. Have we become characters in a Dickensian novel - asking our son to contort daily so we all receive social advancement? The thought of him weeping at the exploitation and cruelty, after only a few minutes back at home, was too much. I went looking for him. It took some time, but eventually I found him curled up under his duvet.
He has returned home from the spring term exhausted. I have seen him in a state of tiredness before, but never like this. There are dark rings under his eyes and he seems unusually lifeless at certain times of day - usually early in the morning and in the early evening. Temporarily, for an hour or so, he seems to be faded; he is not as colourful or three dimensional. He seems almost translucent.
There are two other qualities that I perceive; both of which are positive. First, accompanying the exhaustion is a sense of satisfaction. This has been a rewarding term for him. He has enjoyed the activity, the discipline and the sense of purpose. For an eleven year old, he has a well developed ideology which accompanies his ballet. He understands that he is making a contribution. He sees dance as creating something beautiful, useful and urgent. He works hard and grows strong and in doing so serves his community - both at school, and eventually a wider world. I am envious of his conviction. He is engaging in the current election with energy: he is reading, researching, thinking and debating. Dance for him is another strand of this political way of meeting with the world. I have stepped off the treadmill of work for a while, and I am no longer certain of anything.
The second quality that I am witnessing this holiday is how happy he is with the simplest of things: walking the dog, chatting, being lured by his sister into one of her projects, his grandmother's cooking. It is paradoxical that an environment which demands so much physically and creatively, has led to him being so completely undemanding at home during the holidays. High professional expectation is leading to a low domestic anticipation. The thing I love most about my son is that he is such an artist, but not in any way a diva. We all live and learn.