Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Football and White Lies

OK, so it's hard to always be a perfect role model and to live one's values. I mean, we have the values that we believe in, and they're in our hearts and our conscious mind, but sometimes real life walks up behind you and says, "Oh yeah? See how you can apply those perfect morals today!"

My oldest daughter used to do gymnastics, and was pretty good. She competed for 3 years, but then hit some bumps in the road, gave it the good old college try, and decided to finish the season out and quit. This has freed her up to try other things that she didn't have time for before - karate, more oboe, disc golf, stuff like that. But when I saw an ad in the paper for local cheerleading, I didn't think she'd jump at it - she always sneered at cheerleaders when she was a gymnast.

Oh no, but she did. And waited on tenterhooks for 4 months until it started - she is at the age where she can't wait to make new friends, and she hasn't met anyone her age since we moved (although she still has her posse of old friends that she sees at least weekly).

I was never a big fan of cheerleading - thinking about those wee skirts, the media impressions of bouncy, bitchy girls, and the shameless cheering for, of all things, football players (and I grew up in a college town and God forbid if you're not a rabid Penn State fan, so I'm not dissing football, believe me). When I coached gymnastics, I found that competitive cheerleading was something I could get more behind, even though I don't think it athletically holds a candle to the expectations of gymnastics, but I had fun coaching cheerleading sometimes - tumbling and stretches and conditioning, handstands and cartwheels.

So now my oldest - my baby oldest - has started cheerleading...for a football team. There's a nod to a couple of local competitions, but this is mostly about cheering on the local boys. I don't think she's caught on to that though. She got picked as a "flyer" last night - for those of you who don't know - those are the girls that they throw up in the air. Being petite has some benefits apparently. She's also one of two girls that can tumble, so she'll be showing off that as well. So she's really in it for herself, which is cool.

So, I've had to put aside my misgivings about sexism, and her dad's obstinate belief that she's doing this because there are boys involved, and cheer on my cheerleader. One benefit is that I get to help coach, because they need someone and I know just enough to be dangerous. And you know what? It's really cool to see E. excited again. She babbled on and on after practice last night, she loves the girls, she loves the drama (already!), she loves flying, she loves sideliners (those little sideline cheers they do during plays), and most of all, she loves living in the country where she can ride her bike to practice and back, and watch the Erie Canal through the grated bridge as she rides over it. That's not about boys - that's about freedom and fun and hanging out with your gal pals.

I admit that I shared my misgivings with her - but then I let them go. She is 12, and she understands, and she is having fun, and I will go and watch her cheer and take pictures and brag about how cute and talented she is, because that is my job.

So my values about my girls showing off their cute bottoms officially trashed, we've come upon the little white lie scenario. My friend canceled her daughter's birthday party because my daughter (the best friend) had lice and they really wanted her to be able to stay overnight. I hadn't seen my daughter S. in almost 2 weeks but knew she was waiting desperately for this party and unfortunately they waited till the day of to cancel it. I just couldn't tell her that it was because of her buggy problem. I couldn't do it. I knew she would be devastated and blame herself and cry and I had missed her too much to spend our first day together like that.

So I told her I didn't know why. My friend won't ask her daughter to tell that little white lie (like, oh, something came up - unexpected family visit - or something), and so when S. asks her why the party was canceled, she's going to find out the truth. Yes, that little white lie would make it a lot easier for my family but I can't ask my friend to put her values aside. But boy does it suck.

So I guess I have to tell her today after all. I'd rather she know now - and we've gotten to hang out for 4 days now, so we're back to our normal selves and I think it'll be OK. And hopefully I won't get bad karma for pleading ignorance for a few days.


karencath said...

arg. just arg about S. I'm glad E is happy about cheerleading.

Kelly KH said...

It's OK. I told her and apologized for not telling her before, and she was fine. She even thought it was sweet that A. wanted to wait till she could be there and didn't just go ahead w/o her.

Hope C. is fully recovered!