Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Embrace Your Child’s Individuality

This past summer I signed my daughter up for pee-wee cheerleading and it has been an adventure, to say the least.

I was a pee-wee cheerleader at her age and loved it, and I thought she would, too. Beginning in June, she had practice two days a week for two hours a day. In a parking lot. In 90 degree weather. It goes without saying that these practices were painful, for everyone.

One evening my husband offered to go with her to practice so that I could have some time to myself. I dropped them off at practice and headed to the local grocery store for some alone time. Within half-an-hour my phone was ringing. My husband was calling to say that I needed to come back and get them. Maddy didn’t like cheerleading and we should let her quit. He even put her on the phone: “Mama, come get me. I don’t want to cheer.” I stood motionless in the middle of Kroger. What was happening? I had only left them alone for half-an-hour. I asked to speak to my husband again and told him to hang tight, that I would be there shortly.

I made her stay until the end of practice and then we headed home as a family. When we got home, my husband and I discussed whether or not we should continue sending Maddy to cheerleading. He advocated for letting her quit; he thought she didn’t like it and we shouldn’t make her continue. I advocated for making her continue. Practices had just started and we had paid a large, non-refundable fee to participate.

But then he said something that gave me pause: just because I had enjoyed cheerleading as a little girl, didn’t mean that Maddy would, as well. What was that? Just because I loved being a cheerleader, didn’t mean she would, too? I hate it when my husband’s right, but he was right. We agreed that we would have her continue for the remainder of the season, but if she didn’t want to do it again next year, it was her choice.

My husband’s words really hit home. I suppose every mother who is expecting a little girl assumes their daughter will look and act just like them. I know I did. I dreamed of matching outfits and matching hairstyles. Suffice to say, not only does my daughter look just like my husband, she acts just like him, too. And I don’t say that to complain; it’s just not what I had envisioned. My daughter is genuinely the funniest person I know. Sometimes it’s on purpose, sometimes it’s accidental. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Maybe she’ll be a cheerleader, and maybe she won’t. Either way it’s okay, because she isn’t me. And she doesn’t need to be. She gets to be whoever she wants to be.

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