Saturday: My second basketball game in as many days. No, I haven’t gone over to the dark side (excuse me, my basketball-loving Hoosier friends). Julia is cheering. Not perfectly by any means although pompoms hide many a sin, cheerleaders stand to one side of the basket and cheer from the side, and most folks are here for the basketball players. She is very happy. Tonight she doesn’t even have ear plugs in. The gym’s echo is quite pronounced and the buzzer is incredibly loud and annoying. No complaints from the girl.
I realize that it is me that wants and expects perfection before performance. Julia and her cheer coach do not. Julia is out in front of the crowd on her own terms. Sometimes she perseverates on how she holds her pompoms and she does not stand as still as the other girls. And people do notice. As we left on Saturday, various people told Julia that she did a great job. Some of the compliments were accompanied by a knowing look to me. She is being congratulated for her chutzpah, her sheer and absolute nerve to insist on being herself even in a line up of girls all the rest doing the exact same thing. If there is pity, I refuse to see it. This is a hard lesson for me—a lesson in letting her go and letting her be herself. I would prefer that she show her independence by cutting up her food and sleeping in her own bed every night. I would prefer to let go of reminding her to go to the bathroom and listen and respond to people talking to her. Instead, she insists on my letting her go in front of crowds with pompoms. Continue reading