A few months after I married Paul I was asked to be the cheerleading advisor at our local high school... At the time I was working as the sports writer for our local paper, so I was going to be at all the games anyways, and we had been scrimping and saving every penny that we earned to go on a grand trip around the world that we had been planning since we first met. The two thousand dollar stipend would go straight into the fund!
I had become a cheerleader when I was young because I loved to dance. I took classes ranging from ballet to tap to irish dance (tap was always my favorite and was the one I stuck with when I was older) from the age of 3 to the age of 16. Cheerleading seemed like a natural extension of dance and it gave me another stage on which to perform, because, despite being an extreme introvert in everyday life, I had no problem dancing on stage in beautiful costumes.
And so I became the cheerleading coach at our local school, in charge of sixteen teenage girls.
Thus began to longest three and a half months of my life (in experienced time it felt more like three years...).
I remember high school and I can't say that I would ever want to go back to that time. But in the six years that passed between my graduation and the time I spent coaching, a lot had changed. The cruelty and ruthlessness with which the girls treated each other had been taken to a surprising level.
And I was definitely not a favorite among them. I was far too strict. No making out with boyfriends in uniform (or straddling them on the gym benches during games). Don't be late to practice. The expectations I had were the same that were common when I was in school, and the consequences were the same. Break a rule and the entire team ran together (I would even run with them!).
By the end of the season I'd been cussed out by a girl (who was kicked off the team because of it) and by her father when I explained to him that she'd skipped practice for a month, lied to me and the principal and then let out a string of profanities when I'd confronted her about it.
It was then that I began to realize something that has since been confirmed over and over again: the apple doesn't fall far from the tree (I guess there's a reason that it's a cliche!).
Parents who are cruel, who gossip about kids and badmouth their own friends, raise children who are cruel, who don't even really know how to be a good friend. Parents who show no respect to the people around them, raise children who don't respect themselves, much less others.
That was one of the things that was so funny about the comment I received in the combox earlier today. I'd written a post about a bunch of rather pathetic adults bashing a teenager, because her dad is running for public office. And an adult writes immediately back in the comment box justifying that sort of behavior (in fact in another comment she claims to have written more that I didn't post... which isn't true... but I must admit I'm very curious to see what other vicious ramblings she'd be brave enough to post. People always seem to be brave when they hide behind anonymity). Here's my response, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on the entire situation:
Is that to imply that you sent a second comment that I didn't post (not true!) or that your second comment would be so crass that I wouldn't post it? You're right if it's the second. If you post again, making denigrating comments about a young person, I won't post it. If you want to act like a grown up, I will.
It's not surprising that you don't appreciate the irony of your first comment. I write a post about adults gossiping about kids. And you post back saying basically that she "deserved" to be gossiped about. That's the kind of attitude that produces today's bullies. I wouldn't be surprised if you were the parent of one of the lovely children that probably made life so pleasant at that school for so many others. After all the apple usually doesn't fall far from the tree.
If only parents would act like parents! Being 16 is hard enough without adults trapped in a state of perpetual adolescence making it worse!
I tell my daughter, who is nine, that people who have to make fun of and tear down others are simply people who are sad inside and are taking it out on those around them. I taught 7th grade CCD last year and I was shocked at how mean some of the kids were to each other.ReplyDelete
On a separate note, I tap dance--not well, but I love doing it. I danced with an adult class for a few years until the dance world got too petty and my daughter decided to quit for soccer. Now I just tap around the house.
I am not looking fwd to Kalila starting school. My sisters class started the backbiting stuff in Kinder! Its awful.ReplyDelete