Someone whose opinion I trust made a very subtle and caring, but critical comment about the blog. I have a suspicion they were furtively suggesting that I moan too much. It struck me that they are right, and so I am going to count my blessings.
First, it is true. Yes - the separation of having a son at boarding school is the cause of considerable pain, but there are significant consolations. He is following his heart. A world has opened up to him and he has decided that this is how he wants to spend the rest of his life. How many of us are able to say the same, regardless of our age? Who can say that on every day of their lives, they submerse themselves in something that they truly love? Ballet for him is a practical reality; it is not something that he hopes for, or he might be lucky to do one day - it is something that engages him every day. There is a gaping chasm which distinguishes a dream from a pipe-dream, and at the moment, this eleven-year old boy is living the dream. I rarely speak for his mother, but on this occasion I think that I can; it is an honour and a joy to be supporting him in this; watching his development and growth as a dancer and as person. Also, there is no question that his school is an amazing environment for a child. During the week, he lives at Hogwarts. There is no train departing from Platform 11 3/4 - just a beaten up old car at the crack of dawn on a Monday - but the stories he tells about the teachers portray them as every bit as colourful, eccentric and kind as Dumbledore or Poppy Pomfrey. A glimpse into Snape-like behaviour arises now and again; but let's remember that Snape's cruelty was driven only by a huge capacity for love. So, at school, the art may be different, but the magic is the same.
My own horizons have been expanded by our child's passion. I love ballet. There. I said it. Five years ago, it was only something that I believed was for an elite - a club which disdainfully kept me excluded. I thought it was the place where the affected and flamboyant thrive; their concerns irrelevant, antiquated and redundant. Now, I cannot imagine a world without dance. Ballet for me is vibrant, urgent and skilled. I appreciate the discipline and recognise the dedication. So much of my life is intellectual. When I earn money, I do so by employing cerebral and linguistic skills. Ballet presents an alternative, it is immersive and visceral. Like all great art, it needs no explanation. I am very surprised to find myself writing this. This passionate defence of ballet would not be happening if it were not for my son.
There is the most significant gift. This is something that both my children have given me. Seeing the world from their perspective is a great privilege. Their world is one full of hope, bewilderment and awe. Their musings on life are a source of education and entertainment. They are inventive, intuitive, pragmatic and non-judgemental. In return, I offer them love; a love that I have only really experienced since being a parent. It is unconditional and pure.