One of the first things that happens to me when it comes to the subject of Little Man in pantomime is that people, who up until then appear to be perfectly normal, start rolling their eyes theatrically. The second thing is that they always say in a voice of sympathy something along the lines of “Oooh, I bet you see some right Pushy Mums there…”
Having, in the main, been a ‘soccer/rugby/athletics’ type of mum, I’m not sure what the difference is between the woman screaming at her son to run faster, kick harder and ‘Tackle!’ (when I know for a fact that she has never done any of those things herself) and the mum who dresses identically to her daughter who is sullenly chewing gum, in the audition queue. What makes one mum qualify to be more ‘pushy’ than another? Is it when the aims of the parent in question supersede the desires of the child, or is it when the desires of the parent to further the child’s progression get out of control? Either way, in this country it is seen to be a negative thing.
The very act of writing this blog may be seen to be pushy. For example, I focus on my son. This is due to a number of reasons – he is the closest resource to me, I don’t know the other kids, he is the raison d’etre behind the blog in the first place, and it allows a sense of continuity to the reader who is following his and my progress throughout the panto season. But it could be seen, for example by other mums, to be pushy.
On the other hand, perhaps as panto mums we are only there because we are pushy. Little tricks to get our kids noticed at audition- hairstyles, bright t shirts, big smiles (mine was rather cunning – I brought a boy…), volunteering to chaperone, help out with promotions, setting up school assemblies with members of the cast. All of these display a certain amount of pushiness. But is it any different from the mum who drops hints to the football coach that her son is being head hunted by another team? Or the mum who drives 200 miles to get her daughter to a photo shoot? Or the mum who makes an appointment with the teacher to discuss how to get her child’s grades up so that she can get into the next school? And everyone remembers the obvious distress of Andy Murray’s mum when she was accused of being a pushy mum in the press – until, of course, he won Wimbledon.
Obviously we have the extremes – look at the American mums with the kids beauty pageants, or watch any of the American ‘Housewives of’series, or indeed just look at America full stop – where pushiness becomes a virtue, a necessity even.
But I’m not entirely sure when the genuine desire to get the best for, and out of your child, ends, and pushiness begins…
One thing I do know – I was at a dinner dance function at the weekend, and happened to be sitting next to the type of man I abhor – you know, the one who stuffs food in his mouth and then sprays it over you as he loudly voices his opinion, interrupts his wife and generally makes a tit of himself. His wife was asking me about the panto. He banged his chubby fist on the table in emphasis.
“Full of pushy mums these things, can’t abide them…”
I turned to him confidentially, and lowered my voice. “I could tell you something about pushy mums…”
He leaned in excitedly…
I smiled sweetly, “They may be pushy, they may be irritating…but at least they are not Crashing Bores…”
And I got up to dance, as his wife closed his open mouth with a grin on her face.