When I was eight years old, every girl I knew wanted to be a cheerleader. We used to imitate the high school cheerleaders by shaking our cheap dime-store pompons and chanting the only cheer that every eight year-old girl knew:
“Firecracker firecracker, boom boom boom!
Firecracker firecracker, boom boom boom!
The boys have the muscle
The teachers have the brains
But the girls have the sexy legs, so we won the game!”
I will not even address how that cheer was so wrong in so many ways, although my inner feminist is screaming. I will now duct tape shut the mouth of my inner feminist while I share this next part with the world:
My 14 year-old daughter wants to be a cheerleader.
It’s true. She wants to try out for her high school squad and become a bonafide, short-skirt-wearing, pompon shaking cheerleader. I know. But she has good reasons that, thankfully, are much more valid than sexy legs and popularity. She misses gymnastics.
As I shared in another post a few years ago, my kid was once a level-8 competitive gymnast. However, she did not have Olympic aspirations, and I did not have an Olympic-sized budget, and so she retired at the end of a great season. Since then, my daughter has been learning to redefine herself outside of the gym and chalk dust, and exploring new sports, like recreational soccer, cross-country, and track. She enjoys it, but she still grows wistful at the sight of athletes flipping through the air or dancing across the floor. After watching a bunch of high school squads doing basket tosses, tumbling, and scorpion lifts on TV, my daughter came to a decision. She was going to try out for the cheer squad. And so next week, I will join the parents of other cheer-hopefuls at a meeting, where they will tell us how we will have to sell everything we own just to pay for the uniform and participation fees.
Oh wait, that was gymnastics.
I once thought I would be more excited to have a daughter interested in becoming a cheerleader. After all, I was once a cheerleading coach.
Oops…my inner feminist just died of a heart attack, I think. Oh well. Time to free Cheer Girl from my girly-girl closet for a moment and confess to the world: I WAS A MIDDLE SCHOOL COMPETITIVE CHEER COACH! Look, I was in my early twenties, okay? Pre-kids, post-college, teaching Kindergarten at a private school which just happened to need a cheer coach. So I stepped in and taught a group of girls how to do Herkies, and stunt, and do real cheers that weren’t just lame Steppy-Clappy cheers.
(Example of Steppy-Clappy cheer):
It’s hot, it’s hot, it’s hot in here
There must be some Toros in the atmosphere!”
No, we were much cooler than that. We went to an expensive cheer camp. We competed against other squads who did basket tosses and wore fake curly ponytails. We were the wanna-be middle school version of those snotty teenagers in Bring it On.
TWO! A little bit louder
THREE! I still can’t hear you
We are number ONE!”
See what happens when I let Cheer Girl out of the closet? Give me a second while I stuff her back in, right next to Elle Woods and the girl from Clueless. But I’ll still keep my inner feminist under wraps until after my daughter tries out for the cheer squad. And maybe until I satisfy this sudden urge to re-watch Bring it On.