“We’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?”

Nope. No spirit here.

Each year, the KU spirit squad hosts a fundraiser. For about fifty bucks, you can send your little cheerleader down to the sidelines to cheer on the Jayhawks during a football game. One of Ava’s sitters cheers competitively at the high school level, and she invited Ava to participate. I thought she’d have a fabulous time—what’s not to love? Between the band and the mascots, not to mention about 40 other little girls, I was sure she’d have a blast.

Our photos from the event, however, tell a slightly different story…

Ava just wasn’t into it.

Not. At. All.

And, she became increasingly miserable.

I found myself vacillating between a desire to scoop her up and save her, and a complete and total frustration at her unwillingness to participate.

I always wanted to be a cheerleader. I said this to Bryan in one of those moments of frustration, irritated that Ava wasn’t grateful for this experience I wanted but could never have. (Bryan said, “You could have been a cheerleader!” Yeah, no. “Says who?” Says the panel of judges that turned me down after I tried out. Two years in a row. “Oh.”)

I realize, of course, my attempts to live vicariously failed. Hard. And I feel terrible. Not only because Ava was so unhappy, but also because I should know her so much better than I do. I am always shocked to see she’s shy, shocked to learn she’s not excited by the things that excite me.

So again, I am reminded she is her own person. (I should note: She might be a bit like her dad, who said, “Who can blame her? I’d hate it out there.”)

My concern now comes from how I can adjust to better suit her. I can’t just sign her up for everything I’d find fun. I am really going to have to work to understand what makes her tick. I feel like I should know this already—that it should just be ingrained. I’ve been with her for six and a half years.

One thing I do know—she’s friendly. And being with her friends makes her happy.

So, apparently there’s some spirit after all.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by irolwolerts14 on October 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

    It is good for her to experience a lot of things, that’s how you both learn. Who would have thought my daughter’s love of horses would put me on a farm in the middle of no where? You will grow together and learn as you try new things.

  2. Posted by Nicky on October 5, 2011 at 11:01 am

    It is challenging to remember how different from us our kids can be! I might have a little easier time of it, since I’m raising boys, that I expect to be somewhat different already. Good luck observing your lovely little girls, and figuring out what makes them tick!

  3. Posted by Karyl on October 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

    So – what were Ava’s comments afterwards, about the experience? She is darling even when she is uncomfortable!

  4. Posted by Laura on October 5, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Whatever genetic aversion to new experiences like that that Bryan and Ava got I’ve totally got, too. Mom? Dad? Which of you are responsible for this?!

    I can only imagine what a challenge it must be to pay such close attention to your children’s interests and try to fulfill what their desires are, even before they know how to articulate them. I think your awareness of Ava’s feelings in that moment and your curiosity about how to help her best moving forward are the only things you need to make that happen. You’re an excellent mother! And Ava a lucky lady.

  5. Posted by Laugh at Jessie on October 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Love the post and the thoughtful comments about Ava. One comment though, you wanted to be a cheerleader? Damn I’ve known you 20 years and never would have guessed that!

  6. Posted by Rebecca's Mom on October 6, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Nothing beats playing first trumpet in the pep band . . .hitting the high note on the Star Spangled Banner in the quiet of the moment at the football game; or having the opportunity to ace the solo prelude to Three Dog Night’s ‘Joy to the World’ in the high school gymnasium (or maybe it was some other song in the mid-90s?).

    She looks like a trumpet player to me. And she may be a lot more like you than you think!

  7. Your mom makes a good point. Maybe she is like you…the real you and not the fantasy you.

  8. Posted by Rebecca on October 6, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Okay, but let’s not mention the trumpet thing to her. If she finds out that’s what we want, we’ll have an oboe player on our hands for sure.

  9. Posted by Gramma Great on October 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Oh my, an oboe player! I wonder how Grampa Great would handle that????? He would probably start working on “the other one!”

  10. Posted by Liana on October 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Being a mom is hard. It’s good to encourage Ava to try new things. It just must be a hard transition to parenting a young-tween. In the past you could scoop Ava up or hold her hand to get through a rough start. Now you have to watch from the sidelines. Literally.

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