I’ve failed. I missed a post yesterday. I had full intentions of logging on to the computer and whipping out something witty and quick. But it never happened. What with all the business of the day, I just could not find the energy to pull my self off the couch last night to write something. It doesn’t help that I fell asleep on said sofa before 10:00 p.m. To make up for it, I’ll try to do a double post today (or sometime this week). Posting every day is difficult, especially on the weekends.
Yesterday, I went to my nieces’ cheerleading competition. M (5) and T (7) are both cheerleaders this year, and their teams participated in the competition called Cheer Off. M is on the Flag team and T is on the Pee Wee team. They were anxious, nervous and excited and both did very well. I was so proud of them, and of course they were adorable.
When my sister signed them up for cheerleading, at first I was a little apprehensive. I guess I reverted back to my high school days and the stereotype that cheerleaders are just a bunch of bubbly back-stabbing-bitches. But then I thought more about it and dug deep into my memory. And really, I don’t remember cheerleaders at my school being this way at all. In fact, some of them were my friends, and most of them were pretty cool. For example, Leigh Hood was a cheerleader. For those of you that remember her, you know what I’m talking about. One of my close friends Stephanie was also a cheerleader, and she’s not like that either. She is one of the kindest people who will go out of her way to do something for a friend. Now that’s rare.
So, I thought and thought about why I had this nagging uneasiness about cheerleading. And then it dawned on me. In 4th grade, I was a cheerleader. At the time, I was going to a private school but I was somehow able to cheer for the neighborhood public school. I think I was eligible because I had gone to that school in previous years. At the same time, I was taking violin lessons twice a week. The expensive private violin lessons that my parents could not afford made me about 15 minutes late for cheerleading practice. And I always got chewed out for it by our sponsor, Mrs. Shipp. It always made me feel wretched.
I really liked cheerleading for a while. My best friend was on the team and we had fun practicing together. I was into gymnastics so I liked the tumbling aspect of it as well. But digging through the dark cave of my cheerleading memories, I found that I probably disliked it more than I liked it. Here’s why:
1. Getting chewed out for being late to practice because my mom was also making me take violin lessons. I guess she thought that violin and cheerleading would be a good balance. Come to think of it, Leigh Hood played the violin and was a cheerleader. Again, she was cool. Maybe I should have stuck with both?
2. Having to put on a fake smile all the time and pretend I was having the time of my life when in reality, I was trying to keep count to the routine in my head and not screw up.
3. Some of the other girls on the team actually were bubbly back-stabbing bitches. Mrs. Shipp’s daughter was on the team, and she was one of them. I didn’t go to school with any of them either, which made my sense of belonging that much more difficult.
4. Homecoming. A boy had to escort me on the football field. I hated that moment. I was in 4th grade and did not know the guy, and I simply found this experience to be horrifying.
5. Competitions. Boy, were these girls serious about the competitions. They made me so nervous and sick. I always did my job and never screwed up, but we never won. This made some of those bubbly back-stabbing bitches even bitchier. I remember one competition where half of our pyramid fell down. It was unavoidable because the girl on top lost her footing which led to a fall which left the spotter unable to keep another girl from falling off the side – it was an honest mistake. Before we even made it back to the stands after our routine, there was already some serious blame being thrown around. Tears were shed, feelings were hurt, and it was an altogether unpleasant experience that is burned into my memory. In another competition, our girls were confident. We did our routine perfectly and everyone was sure we would win. We didn’t. We didn’t even place. The other teams were just better. But gosh, you would have thought someone died there were so many tears that day. The disappointment was just brutal.
This is why I do not like cheerleading.
BUT, I do think that there are good things that can come from it. I’m not that much of a pessimist. First of all, I think it is good for building strong, confident women. The health aspects are great and the sense of teamwork is like none other in the world of athletics. The girls get to be with their friends, dance, tumble, and scream their heads off, all the while having people cheer for them. They have to work hard, discipline themselves, and learn about the value of practice and having a focus. Now who couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives?
My nieces did a great job yesterday, and I was happy that I was there to cheer them on in support. I think they had a great time, which is all that matters anyway. And if I have anything to do with it, they will never become my stereotype of a cheerleader. Instead, they’ll be strong, confident, and happy.
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