Do people really understand what it's like to be the parent of a child prodigy? My son Shane Thomas has been hailed as Britain's Mozart and he started composing classical music, aged seven, just three weeks after he first sat at a piano. Since then I've come to realise that having a gifted child, presents you with many challenges and obstacles too. I've lost count of the times I've been considered a pushy parent, sometimes by people that have never even met me, but only heard about Shane. They immediately make a logical assumption, that in order to achieve so many accolades, he must have a pushy parent and cast judgement on me. The truth is that my son doesn't need a push, he is totally self motivated. He has the freedom to what he wants, when he wants. There's no practise schedule whatsoever, but do you think I'm believed when I try to explain this to people? Not a chance.
Don't get me wrong, I love having a gifted child like Shane for a son and wouldn't swap it for anything else, but it's really no picnic, Shane has a younger brother, Ashlee aged 9 and sister Chanelle, aged 8. On one hand they are proud of Shane and on the other hand, they tend to feel over shadowed and inferior to him. Perhaps even believing that I love him more than I love them. Absolutely not, I love all my children equally and the same rules apply to Shane, he doesn't get special treatment. Nevertheless, children can't see that and there's a hint of jealousy that I sense on many occasions. Other people get jealous too, especially those that have children of their own. Insulting and belittling comments are not that uncommon and my motives are questioned. For example, I've been asked if I know what Shane actually wants? How upsetting do you think that is? They think I have no idea what my own son wants and perhaps they know better. I take it all on the chin and I do it out of love.
Shane was just three years old, when he told everyone that he could play the piano. He drew a time signature for no apparent reason and walked around showing it to everyone. Unfortunately his mother thought the whole thing was a lot of nonsense. Shane resorted to using a rug as an imaginary piano. Then one unforgettable day, when he was six years old, we were both peering into a car showroom when he looked up at me and said- "when I get older, everybody's going to know who I am?" I was completely stunned by this, because it's not the kind of thing you expect your six year old boy to announce. Shane exuded such confidence when he said it, that it gave me goosebumps. A year later he got his first piano and learnt to play recognisable tunes, using both hands, in a single day. The Yehudi Menuhin Music School met with Shane when he was ten years old. They said they had never met another person like him. The Royal Academy of Music described Shane as a complete one off.
People often express concerns about Shane not being able to handle fame, but he takes everything in his stride, doesn't understand the concept of being nervous and was born to be on stage. He will be fine, as long as he is protected by all the people that love him. If fame makes him unhappy, I will remove him from the limelight without hesitation. This is not about making lots of money, or wanting to be the proud Dad, it's about my son wanting to fulfil his lifelong ambition. It's a huge responsibility, especially when I am a single parent. The children's mother left the family in 2007, when the children were aged one, two and seven years old. There has been no contact whatsoever.I don't think anyone could imagine the unbelievable journey we've been on since then.