It’s always difficult as a parent to balance the social pursuits of your children. There are the questions over whether your child actually has a specific talent that can be channeled, or if they can be taught a skill that they may prove to have aptitude for.
Unless of course you’re the kind of parent who aspires more to the ‘child genius’ bent, as favoured by Channel 4, and Chess Club, Spelling Club, and Quadratic Equations for Fun are more your bag.
And that’s the thing isn’t it – it shouldn’t be ‘your’ bag, it should most definitely be your child’s. But often we feel pressure to push our kids towards a club or an activity before they’ve even mastered control of their own bladders.
We all want our children to be happy and to make friends, and have individuality, but sometimes extra-curricular kids’ activities have the effect of making them look like tiny beauty pageant contenders, all high heels and Croydon facelifts, with a touch of Towie.
My husband and I decided to wait and take a laidback approach to the apparent minefield of clubs. Our youngest is veering towards sport, and by the time that our eldest was nearly 7, she showed signs of needing to develop her confidence, and other clear indications of wanting to sing and flap her arms around a bit.
Given that there are no Sing and Flap Your Arm clubs, we went down the youth theatre route, and found the King’s Youth Theatre. This is run by the rather amazing Jo Bennington, and India has been a member since 2013. The KYT put on a show each year, ranging from Oliver, to Narnia, to The Wizard of Oz, and it has grown in numbers considerably since India first joined.
Last week, after months of rehearsals, it was finally show time, and we went with our family to watch the opening night. The kids in the KYT range from 7 – 17 years old, and there is some serious talent there, but thankfully no mini-divas or HD eyebrows treading the boards. Instead, there are just lots of lovely kids, having fun, and developing their talents under Jo, and her counterpart, Steve’s, direction.
The show was outstanding this year, and we were literally blown away by the sets, effects, and performances of the cast – especially Paige Brooker in the lead as Dorothy, who was simply stunning.
A huge well done to all involved, and roll on next year!
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 30th June 2015