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Saturday, October 15, 2011


In case you were walking by my house today at about 7:30am and heard the screaming, I swear, I wasn't beating my children. I was just combing Isabella's hair for her cheer competition that was today. Or maybe you missed those screams and heard the cries and the fit about her liner being too tight. All of that being said, Belle LOVES cheerleading. She amazes me with cheers she makes up and how serious she is about it. She was devastated when she hurt her wrist because she couldn't go to her tumbling class and was afraid of where she'd end up in the formation. I want to encourage her because she loves it but I have the hardest time doing so. See, Leo loved his years playing football so going to the games is fun for him. I don't have the same memories from when I was a cheerleader. I cheered in elementary school. In 5th grade I was a cheerleader but had to be the mascot and so I had to wear some Indian head dress thing. I had fun and some guy from Reskin came up and told me I was cute so it was fine. In 6th grade I was a regular cheerleader and then in 7th grade, I broke my arm so I couldn't go out for it and then 8th grade, I thought I'd try my hand at volleyball. I made that team and thought that was the path I wanted to go down. Freshman year I played volleyball but my heart really was wanting to cheer again. Even when I was little I wanted to cheer or take dance but with 5 kids and a mom that stayed home and only one car for the family, it wasn't a priority (rightfully so). If one of us took a class then how could my parents say no when one of the other kids wanted to?

I tried out freshmen year and thought I had a pretty good tryout. One of the varsity cheerleaders was the daughter of a friend of my dad's and she told him that "I had it in the bag." Well, I didn't make it. She told my dad that the volleyball coach had something to do with it but now that I think about it, maybe I just wasn't good enough. Maybe she said that because she felt bad. People say whatever they need to in order to get out of an uncomfortable situation so I don't know. It sure did make me hate the coach of volleyball and though I went on to play another year of volleyball, I worked my butt off to be a better cheerleader. I tried out again and made the JV squad.
I made some great friends from that year. Some that I am still very close to today. There were many, many good times and a lot of laughs. There was a rule that for the first half of the game (football or basketball) the JV cheerleaders had to sit right in front of the Varsity cheerleaders and cheer with them as support. Fine, I did it. I didn't like it and saw no point but I did it. The second half, I sat with my boyfriend and watched the rest of the Varsity game. I got in trouble every single time. I couldn't stand our cheer coaches and probably shouldn't have argued with them about the rule but why did they tell us we only had to cheer for the first half if they were going to be mad when we didn't do it the second half. I was told I should "spend less time with my boyfriend and more time cheering if I was serious about cheering." At the time I couldn't see what was so wrong about wanting to sit with my boyfriend. I hated being told what to do to begin with but I was a rule follower and I was following the rule so I didn't see the problem. Then I got in trouble for wearing red nail polish. I was told it wasn't appropriate. I thought that was ridiculous and didn't take it off. Again...not sure why I dug my heels in with that one but I did. Tryouts came around for the following year and one of the cheerleaders was sick and wasn't able to try out. We all stupidly thought that would mean that there would be an extra spot open but nope. She was automatically on the team because she already cheered a year on Varsity. She was a good friend of mine so I never said how much that bothered me but it was my first encounter of the unfairness of organized sports and activities. I didn't make it that year and when I asked the coaches why not, here is what they told me: Choosing to sit with my boyfriend during the games instead of the cheerleaders and continuing to wear red nail polish showed them that cheering was what I did and not who I was and they wanted cheerleaders who put their squads first and held up the standards in which they saw appropriate. I swear, that was an almost exact quote from one of the coaches who was also one of my teachers the year before. I never liked her. She once told me during an assignment where we were supposed to write about what we wanted to do in the future that I should choose a different career when I said I wanted to be a writer (it's always bugged me that I never published anything just to prove her wrong). Again, now that I think about it, maybe I just wasn't good enough. Maybe she said those other things because she didn't know how to say, "You weren't good enough." Though, with her, I find it hard to believe that she wouldn't be able to say that.

One of the pon pom girls came up to me and told me all I had to do was try out and I'd be on their squad so I went to one of their clinics to learn the routine. I was excited about doing it until I realized I wouldn't be able to go to my boyfriend's games since I'd have to be at the wrestling meets. I was out. I never went back. I didn't want to miss his games. That's one of my regrets in life. I missed out on what was sure to be a lot of fun and something I loved to do. I let a boy influence a decision that should have been mine alone to make. Last time that ever happened.

So when Isabella came to me and said she wanted to be a cheerleader, I didn't know how I felt about it. It really wasn't a path I wanted her to go down but I have always said and I hold true to it: I don't pick what my kids play or do. She was so adamant about it that I signed her up and watching her on that floor today, I'm glad I did because she just sparkles when she is out there. You can tell how much she loves it and it makes me happy that she has found something to do that she loves. I just hope and pray the the world of cheerleading is kind to her. It isn't always so I am hoping she escapes with her self-esteem and love for it still in tact.

Our team took first but didn't qualify for state. We have another shot in November to try and qualify and if we do, I'll be excited for Belle and her squad for all of their hard work but if we don't, I'll be ready to put the uniform away until next year. I'm tired and I don't know how she does it. Tommy had a 30 yard run that landed him on the 1 yard line. He broke three tackles to get there and the next play the QB scored (I wasn't there but that was the text that Leo got). We still lost the game. This was a day where they learned the lesson that even if you are good, sometimes it's just not good enough and isn't that an important lesson to learn in life?


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