There’s been a fair few tears here lately.
The end of the panto hit my daughter hard, as I knew it would. When we embarked on our panto journey back in November, I anticipated moaning, from her and from me, because it was so full-on and and so tiring. She never moaned once (and I didn’t moan either!). It was, quite simply, one of the best experiences of her life.
She performed on stage. She danced, she sang, she acted, she did some comedy. She worked with professional actors and chatted with them as friends. She made friends with a crazy group of big girls who made her laugh and looked after her. She formed a special bond with the smallest member of the chorus. The two of them were inseparable for eight weeks.
The whole thing became a huge part of her life and of all of our lives. In fact, it became her life. There was nothing but panto.
But all good things must come to an end.
The first tears happened five days before the end of the run. There were more tears two days later. There were tears on the final morning.
I was amazed she wasn’t crying when she came out on the final day, especially as her little friend was crying. But they’d had a good day, it had been pretty special. She was buzzing with excitement.
Later that evening, she came down with a bump and started crying. She was still crying as I went to bed that night. It was heartbreaking to see and I hated leaving her crying in her bed.
But the tears weren’t just for the end of one of the best experiences of her life. The panto made her see things differently, made her think about her priorities. Made her want to change. She didn’t want to go back to normal life.
The one thing she didn’t want to do, which we can’t do anything about, is go back to school. My daughter has always loved school and always thrived there. She’s a clever girl, a hard worker and impeccably behaved. She loves sport and will enter every school team she can. She’s a teacher’s dream.
But after October half-term her teacher, a brilliant teacher who had taught both boys, went on maternity leave. I couldn’t be happier for the teacher for having a baby. But my daughter got a new teacher and we encountered something we’d never encountered before – a teacher we didn’t like.
The teacher doesn’t smile. She’s not cheerful. She dishes out punishments too frequently and without much consistency. Of course my daughter hasn’t been punished, but she’s unsettled. The spark has gone from her.
The panto gave her an escape. For the last four weeks of term, she was missing afternoons or mornings and sometimes whole days. She never had to do two full consecutive days in class.
Now all she can see is two whole terms of going to school with a teacher she doesn’t like. She doesn’t want to be there. Year 5 is an important year and it’s not fair that she’s feeling like that (and she’s far from the only one feeling that way).
The end of the panto has also made her question some of the dance lessons she does. Does she still want to do them? Does she still feel a part of the dance school? Does she really enjoy going there? Has she got friends there?
There’s been tears about school and dancing. And there’s been tears about the panto.
She’s at a bit of a crossroads. She needs to decide what she wants to do. And whatever it is, we will back her all the way. Because we want our happy girl back.
And it’s less than nine months until panto auditions. I’m holding onto that thought.