But today at the orientation, I was struck by the negative attitude of some of the parents around me. While my daughter and I checked out the information booths for the various school clubs, another mom came up to me with a roll of her eyes. "Cheerleaders and dance teams," she snorted, "not for my daughter." What?! Why not? If the girl wants to dance, let her dance!
Stereotypes and cliches prevail in our society; I know this so should not be surprised. I have had people roll their eyes at me many times when I talk about the fun I had as a cheerleader in both high school and college. What did surprise me is that the parents who obviously did not enjoy their high school experience reverted back to their bitter, negative selves in front of their children who are about to embark on an adventure that is uniquely their own.
I am not a perfect parent by any means. I don't have all the answers and make many mistakes. But I hope that I do not allow my own insecurities to hold my children back in any way. And that is what tonight seemed like to me: a few insecure adolescents trapped inside adult bodies having flashbacks to their own youth trying to stop their own children from finding their own path.
I know there are bullies. I know that girls can be vicious to one another. I know that not everyone finds their niche. That is life and is not limited to high school. High school is merely the practice ground before life really gets messy. Navigating social dynamics is simply part of the game. As parents, I believe there comes a time when we need to let them learn their own way of playing that game and trust that we have raised them to make good choices.
Yes, I encouraged my daughter to participate in school clubs. And, yes, I did so because I remember how much fun those activities were for me in high school. So, yes, an argument could be made that I had my own bias. That's true.
Be involved, I told her. Have fun, I said. Try something new, I encouraged. How she chooses to participate is up to her. If she would rather be in debate club rather than the pom squad, that is entirely her decision. This is her adventure, not mine. These are her glory days; I already had mine.
High school...a time for learning new subjects, dreaming big for the future, discovering first loves, experiencing first heart breaks, and feeling invincible. They are at the age where all things are possible and every situation is do or die. Excitement at what lies ahead is the only option.
As a former cheerleader, I am used to cheering from the sidelines and intend to cheer my daughter on no matter what path she chooses. Sis Boom Bah, little girl of mine! Reach for those stars! And never let anyone stop you from dancing or cheering or whatever it is that makes you sincerely happy.