Sunday, October 26, 2008

Can I forgive myself? Do I need to?

I you were a cheerleader, please don't read this.

I sent Blue off to CHEER CAMP on Friday. She really wanted to go. Some of her friends from school were going. And, I thought, why not? After all, when I was in 5th grade, I cheered with my cousins and sister and screamed for the Bellingham Red Raiders to win, red and white pompoms in hand. We four made solemn pacts to some day become cheerleaders for the Raiders. We HAD to. WE WOULD. We KNEW it. And in the end, none of us came within a mile of it. None of us even considered it.

Well, maybe I did. As a sophomore, I tried out for Mat Maids, the wrestling cheerleaders. Not that I liked wrestling or understood it or found it anything less than totally retarded. But those cheerleaders were different. Not as obedient as the drill team. Not as stupid as the actual cheerleaders. I wept for days when my name was not on that list. It wasn't just not making Mat Maids, it was my chronic failure to make anything in that high school, to do anything well. And it was my habitual negative self talk too. Not making Mat Maids meant that my whole life (all 15 years) was a total failure. It meant that my future was doomed (perhaps it still is). All that thankfully changed with a new school.
That's my big cheer confession.

Anyway, we went to the football game that night to watch her in the half time show. On the way there I told her, "You know sometimes people make assumptions about cheerleaders. But when you're a cheerleader, your job is just to lead the crowd in cheers and to get them excited. You have to be excited yourself, and brave too, to stand in front of the crowd (in a very short skirt) and be happy when no one else is."
Blue zeroed in on the negative, "What assumptions do people make about cheerleaders?"
Me, awkwardly, "That they're stupid. Basically." Did I phrase that well, or what! "But you can be smart and be a cheerleader. That can happen."

The energy was electric. It's been 18 years since my last high school football game, and it was exactly the same. I was surprised by the power that the scene had to yank me back into the past. Three gigantic memories plagued me to distraction. They happened at the football games. And they profoundly shaped me. It was like I was there again. And these ghosts were there. I felt haunted and obsessed for an hour and a half!

And then there were the cheerleaders. They had all clearly spent at least 2 hours on their appearance. Curlers, make-up, tanning, blah blah blah. I mean, WHO spends that much time on their looks?! Except on Prom night or your wedding day, or whatever, I can understand. But it's an F-ing HIGH SCHOOL football game! And that old question arose in my mind again, unbidden, unexpected, but so relevant: "Don't you have anything better to do?" And then that's where the stereotype comes in, because the answer is "NO." If you're putting on make up for that long, you don't have time to read, to be informed, to develop any other part of your personality. You are a face and hair, because there's no time to be anything else.

Okay, they were nice, they were sweet, and I'm sure they were, some of them, intelligent. But intelligence just isn't the basket into which they are putting many eggs.

However some of the other campers were INSANE! Think "Little Miss Sunshine: the other girls" insane. They were needy basket-cases with make-up smeared all over. Luckily that wasn't the whole vibe. Soledad was Blue's friend there and they were normal kids, just having a good time, not trying to grow up too fast.

And then they went out to the field. And here I was video taping this, bursting with pride. Blue (on the far right) was off on everything, except she got a few pompom shakes in at the right time. She was so freaking cute out there. And she wants to do it again. Groan.

Huck explained it to some shocked friends like this, "You just want your kids to be happy, to be involved with something they love and something they feel enthusiastic about." Isn't that what life's about? the stoke? And how could you deny that to someone you love? Why would you want to? Even though it's WAY WAY FAR AWAY from what you like. There's nothing WRONG with leading cheers, is there?

There's the risk, of course, that she will only develop that part of her: the face, the hair, the cheer. But if this whole venture can be mainly about the stoke, the enthusiasm, then that's something I want her to learn how to feel, to know, and to pursue in life.

I'm probably over thinking it, right? I could probably use a little less brain and more hair and face, maybe?

Otherwise: we helped my parents move from Spokane to Salem, OR. They are attempting to buy a foreclosed house in Salem, but that's going haywire now. Several banks are involved and uncooperative. And it turns out there's a seller and real estate agent love triangle also complicating things...Oh MY! But they're in the moving van now, and they may just have to stay there for a while. It's the end of an era of excellent free babysitting. And lots of good times with my parents.

About the BLOG: OOPS! I picked a blog where no one can comment unless they have their own blog. I do not hang with chronic bloggers (no one I currently know actually has a blog), so there's no one around to make a lot of comments, which leaves me sometimes feeling like no one's reading. On the other hand, this means that ya'll have to e-mail me directly and this is working out beautifully, as I actually get to have two way relationships with people, despite and perhaps because of my blog. And I love that.

And, I can't believe I started a blog at this point in my life. Don't normal people have the impetus to blog when things are GREAT, or at least when they've got it all figured out? And here I am, in a really deep trough in my life and times, blogging. It's just a weird period of time where things have gone off in their own direction that I didn't plan, nor do I approve of.

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