I took The Girl somewhere super scary last night. No, not a cemetery. Nope, not a haunted house. Not a Scientology Center, either. It’s way scarier than that. Last night, I took my baby to…
Dun dun duuuuuuunnnnnhhhhhh…
My baby wants to be a cheerleader. And since I am not one to stop my kids from doing what they want (within reason), if they want to join karate, they can. If they want to put eye shadow on the dog, they can. If they want to ride the pitfall 1,000 times in a row, they can (OK, that’s just me). And by god, if they want to be a cheerleader, they can.
I’m just not cut out for this shit. I live in a small town and sports and activities in small towns are so full of strife and drama. I hate strife and drama. But for many years now, I have been sucking t up for the sake of my kids.
But this cheerleading thing has me feeling a little uncomfortable, because it’s not just a sign-up that we went to last night. It was a sign-up to try out. And that makes me a little queasy. Don’t get me wrong – I think that at a certain age, kids benefit from having to try out – they need to learn that everything can’t be handed to you. That you have to work for things. That not everyone can win. But I have a hard time believing that 5 or 6 years old is that age.
I don’t know how many girls will try out – I’ll find out next week. But I imagine it will be more than just the fifteen that will be chosen for the squad. And the thought of one (or ten or twenty) tiny little girls being devastated because they aren’t good enough breaks my heart into a million little pom-pom shaped pieces.
And one thing that is really bugging me about this is that this is the cheer squad for the midget football team, and the boy’s sign-up was at the same time. And those boys? Are signing up, versus trying out. Every one of those boys will be on the team. They might not all get to play, but they will be on the team, uniforms and banquets and parades and the whole nine yards. But the girls? Exclusive City. I don’t get it – why the double-standard?
Here’s a confession: I tried out for cheerleading back in my first year of junior high. I tried hard and worked hard and thought I had a chance because I was a good gymnast. But I didn’t make it. And I can still remember being in that gym, standing in a line as they called numbers to step forward. I can remember the feeling when my number wasn’t called. I can remember getting into my mom’s car afterward and my heart breaking, crying all the way home. I don’t want my baby’s heart to break like that.
And looking back, what I didn’t realize at the time was that my mom’s heart was probably breaking, too. And I know that if she doesn’t make it and she feels the heartbreak that I felt, mine will too. But even though I want to shield her from that, I can’t. I explained to her that not everyone will make it, including her, and yet she still wants to try. This makes me proud of her – her willingness to try. But I still hope we can avoid the broken heart. And even if we do, I know there will be other brokenhearted girls out there, and that bothers me too.
I hate that at this young, innocent age, there is something that – no matter what – will result in a sad ending and hurt feelings for some of them. I know I’m idealistic in thinking that I can protect them from that, but you can’t blame me for wanting to.