When my daughter asked me to start cheerleader after seeing the big girls cheer after her gymnastics class I felt a little part of my insides die. I had always had trouble with the sport and in my junior high years I had come face to face with rejection when I tried out for our school's brand new cheerleading squad. I face planted during a cartwheel and my dreams of hanging out with popular girls instantly died (and thank god they did, those girls were bitches).
So when my sweet baby girl asked me if she could switch from gymnastics to cheerleading, I hesitated and balked. I made excuses of why gymnastisc was better. You can be in the Olympics Lou! You can make faces like this and get to hang out with the President of the United States! All being cheerleader will get ya is a cheating husband and great abs.
Who wants that?
Having grown up with a mom who had no interest in what I did or the promotion of my confidence and success I knew I had to let her make up her mind. She would have to give up gymnastics to pursue cheerleading and that is precisely what she did.
This weekend #teamsawyer headed to their first ever cheerleading competition. We packed the car and drove an hour & a half to Canton. We got there early and planned to eat some food before her meet however Canton seems to be a new American ghost town. As we drove next to the tumbleweed drifting down the empty streets our bellies rumbled. Having no luck finding food in this lonely ghost town, we parked and headed into the All Star Chill Out Cheer Competition.
In no way was I prepared for what we found as we walked through the Canton Civic Center doors. We walked into an exodus of cheerleaders. The Chef looked like he was gonna drop dead. Quickly feeling overwhelmed by the crowd we sat down to figure out what the fuck we were supposed to do. The Chef and boy were starving so they planned out their mission to find food. The girl and I had other plans, we needed to find her squad.
After making our way thru the glittery sea of heavily makeup faced girls we found her Flurries. She jumped with excitement and the smile on her face exploded, our daughter was in love. My baby girl had turned into a cheerleader. Our world was about to get a lot more sparkly.
Louisiana had about an hour before the big event to practice with her team so I went to search for the Chef. I found him high up in the rafters hanging with the boy both emerged in an intense game of Super Mario Bros. I began to look around at all of the cheer spirit and I noticed the girls on the floor cheering. As their routine ended the entire Civic Center errupted in joy. People cheered, bells rang, and everyone around us was on their feet. I had never heard something so loud. It felt as though the Cleveland Browns had just won the Super Bowl, that's how FREAKIN' loud it was. I peered down from the nosebleeds and saw that the entire squad leaving the floor had Down's Syndrome. The smiles on their faces lit up the auditorium as tears washed down my face. I had no idea how amazing this whole cheerleading thing could actually be. Another special needs squad followed suit, and then another, the celebration following each louder than the one before. In that moment I realized I was proud to be there.
It's so easy for us to judge the unknown. It's easy for me to see a grown woman in sparkly ugg boots, warmup pants, and a sweatshirt that boldly declares whose mom she is and giggle. In a sea of cheerleaders it's not hard to find something to snicker about. But when I saw those girls overcome put aside the challenges of their life in the form of a cheer I knew that I myself had become a #cheermom.