Thursday, 11 March 2010

How to avoid the temptation to clone

My sister (Eva) and I took the girls to the circus last weekend. I spent much of my time oohing, ahing and taking the names of various deities in vain. Some of the acrobatics was absolutely stunning. There were three male acrobats climbing on top of each other’s heads, doing somersaults in the air, doing somersaults round and over each other and many more things that I can’t describe. There was a woman climbing up into the big top on a sheet of what looked like pretty flimsy material, and swinging there and doing all kinds of astonishing manoeuvres with it. There was a woman hanging from a rope by her hair. Yes, her hair. Ow! There was a woman who was able to dislocate her back in order to bend over backwards. All the way. Ow, again!

I spent the whole time in awe at the acrobatics. Rosemary spent the whole time in awe at the ballet. She loved the ballerinas. Sometimes the ballet and the acrobatics coincided. Other times it was all about the acrobatics and Rosemary lost concentration and started messing about with the seats in front or trying to chat to the boy behind. Other times it was all about the ballet and I lost concentration and chattered (quietly to Eleanor). Eva and I kept saying to Rosemary ‘Look at them, Rosemary. You keep missing it. Didn’t you see what he just did?’ But she wasn’t really interested in the acrobats.

And I mourned for my dreams of taking a gymnast daughter to the Olympics. I realised that I probably wouldn’t get to watch my daughter live out my dreams. Because I used to be a gymnast. I went to circus school. I was at the top of a human pyramid. I did somersaults over people – or human juggling as we called it. I was going to be an Olympic gymnast. Until we moved to Spain and I didn’t do any gymnastics for a year. Then came home and had fear. I couldn’t do a simple backflip over the horse. Because I was afraid I would fall. And that was it for me.

So I had pinned my hopes out living this out vicariously. But this is sadly not to be. Unless Eleanor pulls through, of course. And judging by her excited wriggling at the circus. During the acrobatics. I might be in luck.

Of course, all I really want for my girls is for them to find their own way and place within the world, to have the confidence to follow their dreams and the wherewithall to know how to go about it. And I will be proud of them and love them no matter which direction they run off in. But it would be a pleasant bonus if it were somewhere in the vicinity of an Olympic podium or, you know, outer space.

(It's not just me, is it? Oh. Never mind, then. Pretend you never read this.)


  1. I wish my boys liked drawing and making things like I used to. They really hate anything arty so I gave up trying to get them to do it years ago. They are computer game addicts like their Dad :0(

  2. I think that although the wont admit it most parents would feel like this.

  3. Absolutely! If my children don't want to dance, act and sing, then I will be devastated! Equally, my husband is pinning all his hopes on J loving Rugby, despite early indications that he has zero co-ordination...

  4. My kids aren't there quite yet but I already hope that one will follow in my artsy-fartsy footsteps.

  5. @Jennysnail: How annoying for you. Chris is hoping to instil a love of computer games in Rosemary. I think we would both be extremely upset (and shocked) if she turned out not to be a big reader.

    @TheMadHouse: I have decided to think of it as wanting to share my passions with my children, rather than wanting them to go do what I couldn't. It sounds nicer.

    @MtJaM: Maybe the girls will play rugby? I had a boyfriend many moons ago, who was a big Arsenal fan. He lived down the road from the stadium, went to many games, and dreamed of one day playing for them. Instead, his sister ended up playing for them. I know. It's football, not rugby, but you never know.

    @Shannon: Well, hopefully you'll be able to instil a love of all things artsy and fartsy in them. Or maybe they'll go and be bank managers.

  6. You went to cuircus school?! How cool is that? Funny I have some of those moments too, when I wish my dreams on my daughters...

  7. I like to feel I'm encouraging my 2 gently into a love of both art/craft and history. The signs are good so far with my eldest. I just have to make sure I don't push!

  8. @AMM: It was pretty cool, yes. It was a week thing during the school holidays and we learnt juggling, face painting, trapeze, and 'human juggling'. And others learnt clowning, too, as I recall.

    @Jude: That's the trouble, isn't it? Trying to get the balance between sharing the things you love and pushing them into something they're not interested in - or not *as* interested.

  9. I've sort of wondered whether monkey will want to horse ride or play the piano, and of course she would be a concert pianist or a champion showjumper, or... Seriously, H picked me up the other day for saying 'when she goes to university' and did make me think I have certain expectations/assumptions that I need to watch.

    Cool about the circus school!

  10. wow. v interesting.

    as for me, i just hope that my son will be way better than me or his dad!!

  11. Circus school? Brilliant! Vlog some juggling?!

    I like the post, we all have dreams and preconceptions about who our kids will be, I think. I know I do. We're hoping Geekygirl likes to ski, because we do, and we want to be able to do things together on the weekends (though this past weekends ski lesson didn't bode well).

    My parents let me follow my dreams. I was horsey, and my parents had no experience or much interest in horses, but they let me do it anyway, and it was a huge and important part of my life. And my parents enjoyed it too.

    My dad loves airplanes and we got bored at airshows my brother was only interested in soccer, so my dad got interested in soccer too.

    I'm hoping the kids bring new interests to our life as well as take on some of ours.

    And when it comes to olympic dreams, I have friends here whose kids are competitive in sports (ice skating; 4.00am rink time before school for 10 year olds!), and I have to say I can't imagine going there, it seems so intense and leaves so little time for kids to be kids.

    I bet Rosemary will do something cool!

  12. I don't feel like this at all, but that's maybe because I am following my dads dream career! I can understand where you are coming from though. I'm sure whatever they do will bring you new experiences and joy.

  13. I was a musician and I wanted to be a famous Rock Star! If any of my children want the same I'll break their hands! Just kidding. But I won't encourage it. If they want to play just for their own enjoyment that'll be OK. I'd much rather they had a normal life of family and friends. I've seen too many examples of RockNRoll road kill. And, 99% of all the working musicians I ever knew either got out of it completely or ended up selling guitars in a music store. It aint pretty.

  14. i would just like my children to be not be axe murderers. Low expectations round here.