You can learn a lot about a person at a child’s sporting event. Prinny has been involved in sports for the past couple of years and during that time period I have learned two very important things. Number one: Our days on the field/court/mound are numbered because, while she looks absolutely adorable in a jersey, my darling girl could care less about anything involving a ball unless it’s shiny and pink. And number two: Parents of so-called child “athletes” are absolutely nuts.
While it may be shocking to some, I am not what you would call athletic. I break into a sweat opening a jar of pickles for goodness sakes. I didn’t want that for my child. So at the age of four, I enrolled Prinny in soccer. Some how or the other, I got roped into coaching and for the first few games it was comparable to herding cats. Neither the girls nor I had any clue what we were doing but by the end of the season, I was hooked. So much so that I coached again this past year. I was convinced that I had found a sport that both Prinny and I could enjoy but she had other plans in mind. I finally realized that my baby was not destined to be the next Mia Hamm during the last game of the season. The girls were at the end of the field, battling for control of the ball when the other team managed to steal the ball. I looked down to the opposite end of the field to make sure Prinny was guarding the goal ans saw my baby sitting down, picking flowers, totally unaware that the other team was barreling down the field, headed straight for her. I frantically yelled for her to guard the goal but by the time she finally looked up, it was too late. The other team scored and won the game. And Prinny couldn’t have cared less. Needless to say, that was the end of our soccer experience. As much as I wanted Prinny to play, I knew that her heart wasn’t in it. She got out on the field because Mommy asked her to but didn’t really want to be there. I looked around at the other parents, yelling and cheering, clearly loving the fact that their little angels were well on their way to becoming soccer stars. Then I looked at the faces of the girls, tired, thirsty and sweaty and wondered how many of them were there because they loved the game and how many were there because their parents did.
Since our foray into the world of soccer has ended, Prinny begged and pleased to try cheerleading. I honestly wasn’t sure how she would do but the minute her coach put those pom poms in her hand, the look on Prinny’s face said it all. She bounced out on that hardwood floor, pony tail bouncing, pom poms waving and the biggest smile on her face I’ve ever seen as she cheered for the boys and girls playing basketball. In the past six weeks our home has been filled with the sounds of her yelling cheers and practicing her cartwheels in the back yard. I think it is safe to say that she has found a sport she loves. She is obsessed with her ribbons being perfect, her skirt fitting just so and of course the laces on her tennis shoes have to match her outfit. If I had had my way we would be doing soccer until the 2024 Olympics but apparently I’m destined to be a cheerleader mom instead of a soccer mom. And as long as she’s happy and doing what she loves, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sitting in the stands at Prinny’s games, I am surrounded by hundreds of parents who are there to cheer on their little superstar. At last week’s game a mom sat behind me and I swear, the woman screamed herself into a fit laryngitis. Each time her baby boy made a shot, whether it actually made it in the net or not, she would yell, “That’s how they do it in the NBA, baby!” The child could have been no more than four but his mommy was bound and determined that her little man is going to be slam dunking by his sixth birthday. While I found her behavior obnoxious at first, my opinion quickly changed when we were joined by another mother. This woman’s son was obviously very talented, dribbling the ball up and down the court and literally running circles around his teammates and opponents. But the one time he missed his shot, she made a very loud sigh of disappointment. In that moment, the little boy looked up at his mother and seeing her face, his poor little face just fell. His entire demeanor changed and instead of the happy, energetic little boy that had been on the court moments before, the child became sluggish and seemingly uninterested in the game, missing shot after shot. His mother continued her sighs of disappointment until gathering her things and walking off in disgust. It seemed as if the second she left, her little boy made a basket. The crowd erupted into cheers for the child, with the mother of the future NBA star screaming the loudest. The little boy had the biggest grin on his face and I had one of those embarrassingly emotional moments where I teared up out of sheer pride for this child I didn’t even know. Then I looked over at my little cheerleader bouncing up and down, shaking her pom poms and my heart swelled with a mixture of pride and joy. In that moment, I realized that I may never again be a soccer mom or a t-ball mom or a swim mom but I will always be Prinny’s mom. And for that I will always be her biggest cheerleader.