I've mentioned before that I'm lucky enough to be the mom to two incredible daughters. This month, I'm feeling particularly touched by what I've seen with my fifth-grader.
We had tried a few activities in recent years, everything from ballet to baseball. My older daughter has enjoyed these things but didn't totally fall in love with them. Now, I can tell you we've found her niche - cheerleading! I was so glad when she was interested in trying it at school last year.
This year has been especially challenging with homework sky-rocketing both in volume and complexity. But, like a princess putting on a crown, I've watched my daughter transform from the tired schoolgirl I see when I pick her up at school to a giddy cheerleader once she picks up those pom-poms. It's magical and makes me feel all the running around for practice and games is well worth it. And, along the way, her little sister has become one of her biggest fans, happily going to every game [where the coaches even engage her with the team].
Our cheerleader has made more friends, and in a small-school community like the one she's in, extending that "family" has meant a lot to her (and us). She's proud of herself - she's incredibly talented - and she has this beautiful way of smiling and conveying to all that she's happy to cheer for her classmates, the athletes. In fact, one of the captains even told me what an amazing cheerleader she is. On the occasions when she goofs, while other kids nervously look like they want to fade away, my daughter giggles and regains her composure. That's a gift, I keep telling her.
I take so many pictures wanting to savor all of these happy memories and that great smile of hers! So, while she boosts her confidence and character, and learns about teamwork and commitment, her dad and I are also learning. We make it a point to talk with the coaches and be friendly to the players and parents; and make a concerted effort to share photos.
We haven't been the kind of parents to sign our children up for multiple activities but when they choose one, we do all we can to encourage them to stick with it and be a strong team player. Sometimes that means reminding this cheerleader about the magical, happy feeling she gets once she joins her crew at the games [no matter how tired she's been on a Sunday and reluctant to go]. Highlighting that transformation we see in her helps motivate my daughter; she loves hearing it! She knows how proud we are and how touching it is for us to see that happy glow on her face, pom-poms in hand.