It is a parent's worst nightmare; well, one of a parent's worst nightmares, anyway. You know the one: The nightmare where your child loves doing something, but you absolutely despise the activity. Of course, by despise, I mean loathe, abhor, hate, and scorn.
Then again, we aren't talking about a cut-and-dried like versus dislike battle of parent versus kid, either. We aren't talking about sex, drugs, or rock and roll - enemies of parents around the globe. We are talking about something far more benign. What might this vile activity be, you ask? Simply put, the thing I disdain above all others comes alongside glitter, bows, and cute outfits: competitive cheerleading.
My Daughter Loved It
She loved everything about cheerleading, well, just about everything that you would expect any garden-variety 8 year old to love. She loved the eye glitter, the glamor, the music, the stunts, the hair bows, the applause, the acrobatics and the winning -yes, I said the winning. My daughter likes to compete, and when she does, she competes to win.
I Loathed It
The simple fact that my tyke adored cheerleading so much should have been enough for me to love it too. After all, that's what any other "good" mother would do. However, some things about cheerleading wormed their way under my craw in a massive way.
I didn't like the fact that my daughter's team won all the time -everyone needs to learn how to lose with grace. I didn't like the fact that at most events they didn't have a team to compete with, so they "won" by default. I did not like cliquish parents, refusing to cheer, clap. or even acknowledge any of the other teams during performances. I didn't like the snotty behavior I saw the girls exhibit on each "win." I despised the fact that winning was held above good sportsmanship. When the rubber met the road, I didn't think my daughter was getting any real benefit from this sport. In fact, it was turning her into a kid I didn't very much enjoy being around.
So, What Did We Do?
Yet, because my daughter loved this sport like no other, I suffered through two years (and $40,000 paid) in competition fees, bows, glitter, traveling, and gym expenses. And then, all of a sudden, everything changed.
My hatred for competitive cheerleading led me to research the sport independently. I found out that the entire institution was "rigged", that is was, in fact, the most dangerous sport for girls to participate in, and that the coaches, staff, and spotters at competitions had no real medical training in the event of injury - injuries that happened often and painfully. After all of this, I pulled the plug on my daughter's cheer career, much to her dismay.
And Do You Know What I Found Out?
I found out that my then eight (now 10) year old didn't really know what she "loved" after all. In fact, she fell in love with dancing, singing, gymnastics, and the violin far more than she loved a competitive sport that was knocking the wind out of our time, our sails and my budget. Since we dropped the pom poms, my daughter plays outside more, we have our weekends back and we have more valuable, meaningful family time than we have in two years.
I Understand, I Got Lucky.
I had an enigma. Had cheerleading not been dangerous, had I seen good sportsmanship, and had it been less expensive, I probably would have suffered through the agony for as long as my wallet could have sustained it. Because, sometimes, you just have to suck it up and take one for the team. It just so happens that this win got chalked up to "Team Mom"…and a little research.
What activity has your sprog participated in that he or she loved but you simply couldn't stand? How did you handle it?Content by Shauna Zamarripa.