The look of horror when I told my dad his precious grandson was going to ballet, and loving it, was en pointe. Because my dad, a Yorkshire man to the core, who will happily sit in front of Sky Sports all day long watching men play with balls, couldn’t believe that his boy grandchild could ever dream of ‘prancing about like a ******”. “I thought he liked going to football?” he said, genuinely confused that he might like to do both. “I do, Grandad, but ballet is FAB,” said Leo, as he minced off to play with his pram. My dad, bless his heart, was lost for words. He simply sat blank-staring with a puzzled look on his face, shaking his head, obviously thinking of all the horrors that would befall Leo should he want to keep going. Not that he would ever love him any less.
Leo has begged me to go to ballet for months, so when I found a class locally, I signed him up without a second thought. When we arrived, he was the only boy in a sea of girls, all wearing pastel coloured tutus. It looked like an explosion in a candy floss factory and I honestly thought Leo was going to run a mile, hell, I almost did. But he wandered off without even saying goodbye and I left with my friend for one precious hour to go consume calories I really shouldn’t be eating in an over-priced coffee shop. To be fair, as I sat eating my massive slab of cake, it did cross my mind that if Leo didn’t want to go again, I’d probably force him any way. The £7 class fee is an absolute bargain for an hour off on a Friday afternoon. As it happens, when we went back to collect them, Leo was practicing pointing his toes and balancing with a massive grin on his face. At the end of the session, the tutor told me she hoped Leo wasn’t put off being the only boy and that he’d done fantastic; she told Leo that even the England squad had taken ballet to strengthen their muscles and help with their coordination – not that it’s ever made them win anything but the sentiment was there.
I’m not a pushy parent. Okay, I may have made him watch the stunning performance by the 14-year-old male ballet dancer on Britain’s Got Talent a few weeks ago whilst constantly repeating ‘look Leo, that could be you one day’ and day-dreaming about him starring in the West End, but I’ll always let my boys choose their own paths. If a career in dance lies ahead for Leo I’d be proud as punch. Equally, if he chooses to be a ‘sweep roader’, ‘bin men’, ‘Fireman Sam’ or one of the dogs off Paw Patrol, which are his current ambitions so he can save enough pennies to take me to Wetherspoons for my dinner, I’ll be just as proud.