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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Repetition Revisited

Let me begin by saying how thankful I am to be able to put the following story into my memory bank. Time to put the past behind and move forward.

Anyone who has spent any time around kids knows that they learn best through repetition. I have read and reread hundreds of children's books to both of my kids repeatedly. The repetition of that never really bothered me. I knew it would build good skills for their future.

Now that they are older, 10 and 12, there are less reasons and opportunities for that kind of learning... unless, my daughter, joins cheerleading.

Oh crap!

I've never really been a fan of the whole cheerleading thing. As a kid, I viewed the girls on the cheerleading team as a group of snobby bimbos. Yeah, I know it's wrong... now, but I was 11. Gimme a break.

My opinion of those girls at the time was not a direct result of stereotypical bull that I heard in the hallways of my school but rather, a firsthand experience. In 6th grade I was 5'8". I towered over the cheerleaders. It should have been obvious that I was not one of them.

One day Nancy, one of the most popular girls in school asked me if I was interested in joining the team. Being the kind of kid who would try basically anything, I told her I would be happy to join.

Practice after practice, no one took the initiative to teach me the cheers or moves. Being a quick learner, I picked them all up on my own, practicing quietly every night in my room.

On the day of the big game, my first real game, I was all sorts of happy, until the squad captain came to me.

"Lois, we need you to kneel down and let Nancy climb onto your back so Amy came climb onto hers."

"Do I look like a fucking ladder to you? What about 'sis boom ba Kelly needs a bra'? What about 'we will, we will rock you'? What about Marcia Brady's nemesis 'FF-FIL-LL-LMO-OO-ORE Filmore Jr. High!' ... ?"

I found out that day, no matter how hard you practice, some people have already planned out your future.

"The hell with that!" I continued, and walked my happy ass right out of that smelly old gym. That was the end of my cheerleading career.

My daughter, who is 4'10", has been for the past ten years, the kind of child who is shy and tries her best to blend in with the crowd. Like the chameleon in the movie "Doctor Doolittle II", her blender is broken. Or maybe she has somewhat outgrown her shy ways and no longer wanted to blend in. At any rate, she broke the news to me.

"Mom, I want to join cheerleading. Sarah and Megan and Liz and Brooke invited me to join."

Although that was a huge step for a shy little girl, I feared history repeating itself.

For the next few days, I offered as much encouragement as possible and listened over and over again to "Open the barnyard, kick out the hay. We're the girls in the USA. Turn up the radio. What do ya hear? Elvis Presley doin' a cheer. Sayin' F-I-G-H-T, sayin' F-I-G-H-T. I'm sayin' F-I-G-H-T. Fight, fight, fight for the victory!"

My flesh crawls just typing that. If I heard it once, I heard it a million times. "Repetition will help her learn this," I told myself.

"Great job sweet pea! Now why don't you try doing the cheer for your brother?"

She bounced happily away. I could hear Lane 1 cringe as his sister began to cheer. He listened a couple of times and then shooed her out of his bedroom. She came back to me for a "little more practice".

"I think you got it, sweetie. Do you know any other cheers you want to practice?"
"No Mom. I need to make sure this one is perfect."

I do have a breaking point you know. And I can only listen to my sweet daughter shout, "...Elvis Presley doin' a cheer. Sayin' F-I-G-H-T, sayin' F-I-G-H-T. I'm sayin' F-I-G-H-T. Fight, fight, fight for the victory!" so many times!

"Sorry kid, but Elvis is DEAD...D-E-A-D, I'm sayin' D-E-A-D!!!"

As it turns out, she would only be 'performing' once in front of people. My mind raced with the amount of practice she put into this routine for one stinking show. This was almost as bad as being used as a ladder.

The big high school football game was Friday and she and her little friends were part of the halftime show. She did better than all of her friends, and I'm not just saying that. Thankfully, I think I've seen the last of "Elvis doin' a cheer".

When we got home she said, "Mom, promise you won't get mad?"
This is the opening line my kids use when they think I will be upset at the next thing to come out of their mouth.
"I promise. What?"
"I didn't like cheerleading. It was kind of stupid."

I can't begin to tell you how happy I was to hear those words come out of her mouth! So I asked, "What?"
"I didn't like cheerleading. You aren't mad are you?"
"No. I'm not mad. Say it again."
"Say what again?"
"You know..."
"I didn't like cheerleading?"
"Yeah. Say it again."

I couldn't resist. Using her moves to the Elvis cheer, I shouted, "I'm sayin' G-O-O-D, I'm sayin' G-O-O-D, I'm sayin' G-O-O-D!"