I don't know that I've mentioned it in this space yet, but somehow this:
Yes, the Universe had a good long chuckle when it granted my suburban goth womb the makings of a true blue Texas Competitive Cheerleader. Miss A began in tumbling classes three years ago and made the switch to cheerleading two years ago. Her natural gift for gymnastics, complemented by her super-sized personality, are a great fit for the sport. I watched in wonder as she jumped, and cheered, and stunted her way through performances. She looked so happy out there!
Last May she decided to try out for her gym's brand new competitive cheer squad.
Her try-outs took place the day before we left to travel to Seoul to take custody of YH. It is pretty amazing to think that as her little life was on the cusp of complete upheaval, my babe pulled herself together and plunged headfirst into a major team commitment. All at the age of seven, mind you.
I got the email telling us that Miss A had made the squad as we sat in the DFW airport waiting to board our big blue Korea Air plane. Her coaches wanted to be sure she knew what a big responsibility this would be. She was one of the two youngest members of her team; there would be no time for goofing off. She would have to come to every single practice, all year long, no exceptions. She promised me she would; she was taking this seriously.
Part of me had doubts. Part of me expected that about a month into the season she would realize how much of her weekends were now devoted to practice, and she would stop wanting to participate. Part of me was already drafting the email to the coaches politely declining the opportunity.
And that negative part of me was thinking back to my own childhood, when I quit every damn thing I ever started. I had great enthusiasm for discovering new activities; I *loved* reading through recreation association brochures, imagining my as-yet-undiscovered genius in watercolors/rocket building/pottery/tennis/soccer. But once I started classes, and realized I was solidly middle-of-the-pack (or lower) talent wise, I dropped the activity.
Piano: took too much time during the week. Trombone: made my lips feel weird. Lacrosse: all that running made me tired. Field hockey: "B" team didn't get to wear the cute plaid kilts. Ballet: eh, not my thing.
And so on. I was an accomplished quitter by the age of eight.
Miss A, on the other hand, has never once asked to skip practice. Since mid-August she has spent the better part of her Sundays at her gym, working her heart out. She smiles the entire time she is at practice--and not because that's what cheerleaders are supposed to do. She does it because she is genuinely thrilled to be there.
Last weekend her team performed at a rather large competition. As they were warming up one of their flyers (the girls at the top of stunts and pyramids) injured herself. She had to leave to seek medical attention and the judges granted our team one hour to rework their entire routine. One hour!
They did it. And they did it well.
And when I asked Miss A if she was ever worried that they wouldn't be able to pull it off, she looked at me like I was crazy.
"No way Mom! We work hard, and we support one another. That's what a team does, no matter what."
Man, I'm proud of her.
And man, I wish I'd stuck with something long enough to have felt that way when I was a kid.