At the age of 7 or 8 the prospect of leaping around an old hall, picking invisible flowers from an equally invisible vine and then scattering them about seemed beyond strange to me. Ballet lessons for little girls weren’t what I had imagined, and while my Grandma had kindly offered to pay for ballet lessons, I politely declined.
I was quite interested in the idea of being a ballerina , well I was interested in being good at ballet, but as it turns out I was less interested in the whole lessons side of things. In my mind ballet was going to be my hidden talent, I was going to be a natural and leap into action, so to speak, and be pirouetting around the room right from the beginning. Instead I arrived at a small hall with polished wooden floors on the outskirts of town, to find a group of girls picking invisible flora, a group of girls who I might add had been taking ballet lessons for some time.
My mother had pre-warned me that the other girls had been taking ballet for a while and would possibly be better than me, but that was ok because I was just starting. As a child I was shocked, “how silly were these girls”, for a start not only were the flowers not really, there neither was the vine they were supposedly growing on, and most baffling, how long did you have to be here before you got to do some real ballet?
Surprisingly enough I didn’t take up ballet, it wasn’t me. I declared I’d rather play outside in the gully behind our house but secretly I just saw the timeframe from invisible flower picking to Royal New Zealand Ballet as being too long and too complicated. I wanted tutus and graceful leaping, not the whole start at the beginning.
I was pretty quick to bail on an idea if it wasn’t what I thought, similar to ballet I dropped out of Kapa Haka after only a few weeks.
I had originally seen Kapa Haka as an opportunity to get out of another subject at school; it was possibly physical education, religious studies or Newspapers In Education. From the Kapa Haka performances I’d seen it looked fairly straightforward and something I could look good at with minimum input. I was wrong, Kapa Haka involved somewhat of a craft element, I needed to make my own poi.
Making is general not considered a challenge, other families and other people can probably make them without too much of a struggle, but my family and I just aren’t crafty people (how to actually make poi).
If it needs to look a certain way and serve a certain function, I’m not always the best person for the task and poi were a challenge from the start. Don’t get me wrong I can create all sorts of things, but never anything that needs to resemble something specific or hold up to a particular task. We didn’t have any wool in the house so my Dad gave me coarse fiberous rope to make the handles with, which gave me rope burn and left tiny rope fibres in my hands. My Dad was also pretty reluctant to let me cut up more supermarket bags after going through so many in my earlier attempts, and then once done, at the slightest hint of movement my poi would fall to pieces and fling newspaper everywhere, after multiple attempts they weren’t getting any better or sturdier.
Not one to out right admit defeat I conned a classmate into making my poi. I’d done my research and found someone who’d already finished theirs so I knew the quality of their work; they’d made usable poi that didn’t fall apart. I was going to get top quality (for an 11 year old) poi for minimum input. Well that was the plan anyway, but I guess the motivation to do another kids school work isn’t that great when you’re an 11 year old being offered nothing in the way of payment. I had no cool toys to give or lend the poi-maker and certainly had no pocket money either, so arrived at school only to find myself poi-less.
True to form I gave up on Kapa Haka, I told my teacher I much preferred to focus on the alternative subject instead.
In my career as a giver-upper there are many noteworthy things I’ve quit. I quit Brownies with only a handful of badges and chip on my shoulder about not being made a team leader, although in hindsight, I actually have no clue what the leader of a handful of Brownies actually does. I dropped Speech and Drama when I was at intermediate, purely because classes clashed with the TV sit-com F.R.I.E.N.D.S… but don’t tell my mum.