As I came close to cracking under the sheer pressure of June and all I have to organise, my daughter announced that she needed some footless dance tights for the show. Footless dance tights are not something you can pick up in Sainsburys (my preferred option for most things I buy), they have to come from a specialist retailer. Now, I could have gone to the specialist retailer in town, but what if they didn’t have them? And going to town is a time-consuming business when you’re up against it, so I ordered them online. They were £3.95 and cost as much again for delivery. So that’s eight quid for a pair of tights she will wear for a dress rehearsal and two performances.
The boys looked at the tights in disdain. ‘Did she pay for those herself?’ they asked me in an accusing voice.
‘No she didn’t, because they’re dance uniform. I don’t make you pay for your own football kit, do I?’
But they got me thinking. Dancing is like a bottomless pit of money. The lessons are way more expensive than football or rugby and there seems to be endless kit requirements (although currently she is wearing borrowed ballet and character shoes and second-hand tap shoes).
Should she have paid for the tights herself?
A couple of months back, my son asked me for hair gel. I refused to buy it for him. It was non-essential and he had to buy it himself. I buy shampoo and soap and school shoes. I don’t buy hair gel. If my daughter wants new hairbands, she buys them herself, so it’s only fair. Needless to say, he never bought any hair gel.
But are dance tights more important than hair gel? Do I spend more on my daughter than on the boys?
This autumn my daughter will be doing her Grade 1 in both ballet and tap. I’m trying not to think about it too much, but each exam is going to cost just over £80, taking into account the actual exam costs plus extra lesson time. That’s a lot of money, on top of the usual cost of four dance classes a week plus kit.
And then I looked at the pile of letters that had come home from Scouts and realised I’m not favouring my daughter after all. My boys did two Scout camps each in June. They both want to go on two more camps this summer, including a week-long camp costing £120. Each. Now £120 isn’t bad for a week, but 120 quid is still 120 quid. (Well, it’s actually 240 quid in our case.)
It seems that my kids believe I have a bottomless cheque book (and maybe I do too). We want them to have the very best experiences and make the most of their childhood, but that doesn’t come cheap.
The footless dance tights are a drop in the ocean.