Tonight my family attended a banquet in honor of our First Grade Cheerleader completing her first season of PeeWee Cheer.
My daughter is a very shy girl. She often misses out on great, exciting experiences because of her fear. I say “fear” because to her (as to many young girls) the social aspect of life is scary….especially when you add self consciousness to the list! She has both…
As a mother, and just a female who has been there, I hate seeing girls who are worried about their appearance or approach too much to have fun. I wish every girl knew just how wonderful and amazing and UNIQUE they are. Let’s be honest- girls are mean. girls can judge. girls point out your differences. For whatever reason that is how we are wired. If I could take that wiring and rewire every female brain to things such as acceptance, love, encouragement, confidence I would start tonight!
In hindsight I now see what I wish my daughter could see. I see that no one else is as concerned about my socks as I am, or about how I walk to the front of the classroom. No one else cares if my bag of chips is loud when it opens at the lunch table or if I spill my drink on the floor. I was the only one who cared that much, and honestly I was so worried about how I looked that I never even looked at other people and noticed what they were doing! That is not how I want Doodle to grow up.
So in an attempt to expand her comfort zone (or maybe even throw her out of it) my husband and I decided to put her in PeeWee Cheerleading! At first, Doodle refused to consider the idea. After 1,524,678 questions we finally got her excited about the uniforms! (baby steps, people) I ended up being able to coach her team which I really think helped her feel comfortable at first. But once the season started and we had our first practice….
Oh. My. Goodness!!!
This shy, self-conscious girl I had come to know was amazingly one of the loudest, most outgoing girls on the team! She transformed into another person completely. My husband and I joked at first that we were sure that she thought she didn’t have an option once she started. Nonetheless, when we encouraged the girls to cheer louder, her voice sang out with the rest. When we practiced our jumps, she was right in there trying her hardest with the rest of the girls, oblivious to how she measured up to everyone else. Watching the smile gleam across her lips and see the confidence beam out of her was one of the proudest moments I have had as a mom as of yet.
I will be truthful, we took a huge gamble. UGE as future President Trump would say. But in the end it paid off big time. The girl who came out of cheerleading was by no standing the same girl that went in.
So my message to bonus parents and parents alike- take the risk! Encourage, support, answer questions until you’re blue in the face. Be excited about the experience. Honestly, I think our excited anticipation for Doodle helped build her own excitement-which made a world of difference. And above all, remind them how beautiful and perfect they are….Often. And be specific. “Doodle, you impress me with how well you brush your hair in the morning, you are beautiful….even with your bed head” “I’m proud of you” goes a long way. It is probably the thing I say to the kids most after “chew with your mouth closed”.
Every day I spend loving and learning from these kiddos makes me a better parent. Some days the lessons I learn are from my failures. But when we have nights like tonight where Doodle is running around playing with all of her friends, I feel a huge sense of joy and that rare tickle of success. Today, we celebrated a huge success as parents of a proud cheerleader. No matter what tomorrow brings we will celebrate the lessons learned and the love shared!