I remember these moments from my own childhood so clearly.
My first ballet show, age four or five, on stage at Trowbridge Civic Hall. Collecting ‘autographs’ from the older dancers, who were actually only a couple of years ahead of me.
Performing in concerts with, first of all, West Wiltshire Junior Strings, and then West Wiltshire Youth Orchestra. The excitement of putting on my black skirt and white blouse (we wore blouses back in those days). Of hearing the instruments tuning up backstage. Of taking our places and raising my violin to play.
Last night, I was on the other side.
My boy was part of a joint school choir that performed on stage in the Primary Schools’ Music Festival in a city centre theatre. The last time I was there, it was to watch one of my all-time favourite bands: The Levellers. I will admit that I was WELL excited to see The Boy on the same stage.
I was anxious, too. The Boy has form for messing around in choir and drama practices. He has the attention span of a neon tetra. When he came home from school bouncing off the walls, I feared the worst, and gave him a BIG lecture about not letting me down. Apparently, this venue holds 1200 people – and while the audience was made up of parents, they were paying (and public) punters, nonetheless.
I needn’t have worried. It was amazing. The Boy behaved and performed impeccably (the only downside being that, with the stage lights shining on his glasses, he couldn’t see me in the upper circle, and so spent the whole show peering around trying to spot me, until he finally settled on me in the penultimate song). The singing was absolutely beautiful – a credit to my dear friend, the choir mistress. And the final song had me weeping. I have never been able to stand R Kelly or his infamous I Believe I Can Fly, but sung by 100-odd KS2 pupils, the words had so much resonance.
Afterwards, The Boy was on a total adrenaline high. ‘I can’t believe I did it!’ he squealed. ‘I can’t believe I performed at the Alban Arena! I feel like I was made to be on the stage!’
Maybe he was. Certainly, he has more talent for the performing arts than he has for sports – or his school work.
But as I drove him home, effervescent in the passenger seat of my car, through the dark city centre, I suddenly felt – like a mother. In a way that I never have before. A mother who has just seen her child through an enormous and exciting milestone. A mother of a child who is old enough to perform on a (city centre) theatre stage. A mother of a boy who, despite all that, is still little enough to leap up in a koala bear hug in celebration of his performance.
They did so well. They all did so well. And now I enter a whole new phase of my life: in which I become my mother.