Kate is seven-going-on-seventeen, and I think we’ve reached the age where I am no longer the sole dictator of her extra-curricular activities. In the past, I’ve given her a chance to try anything she had even a remote interest in — from Tea Party 101 to Tae Kwan Do — and she’s happily obliged. Sometimes they stick and sometimes they don’t, but she’s never really had a strong opinion or passion for an activity.
Until we met cheerleading.
Last year I wrote about my hesitation to let Kate do recreational cheerleading. I hated the idea that the girls wore their uniforms to school, cheered for the Kindergarten boys and brought them snacks and big victory banners. It all just seemed so old-fashioned. But I let her try and she loved it.
Then, a few months ago, we met competitive cheerleading.
Do you know the difference? I didn’t. In competitive cheer, there are no actual sports games involved to cheer for — the act of cheering is the sport in and of itself. Instead of cheering at games, the girls perform at competition against other cheer squads. It is athletic, it is a little dangerous, and it is hard core. Kate begged me to try out.
Oh dear God, I thought. How can I let her try out? I can think of so many more activities that have lasting and enriching value than cheerleading.
But I let her endure three days of grueling tryout clinic, hoping all the hard work would scare her off. It didn’t. I sat her down and explained how much money it cost to cheer, how she would have to give up her other gymnastics and dance classes (since they’re all part cheer practice), and how this was a year-long committment even if she didn’t like it. Her team was counting on her.
She thought about it for about two seconds. “This is what I want to DO, Mama!’ she said.
And so I let her.
And I have no idea if it was the right decision. But somehow…I don’t think it was up to me anymore. She is growing up so fast — and I think I have to let her, right?
Would you let your kiddo try something even if you weren’t a fan?
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