This past weekend my youngest daughter, Kiley, 12, had her last cheerleading competition to see if she could earn a bid to Summit. If you don’t know, Summit is the big event, the championships for the entire country in Walt Disney World. All the teams want to go to Summit. Last year her team did make it to Summit. In fact, they did really well there, moving on to Day 2 of the competition and placing 19th out of like 84 teams in the country. The kids LOVE it. They follow each other on YouTube and social media so they are star struck being there with some of the best teams in the country. I wrote about this before, but she had a tough year cheerleading wise last year, she wanted to quit really bad, but she didn’t, she stuck it out all year and ended up making it to Summit and having a good time. She felt rewarded for all her tough times by having her team make it to Summit.
This year she switched gyms and was placed on a team where she didn’t know anyone that had lots of older kids on it. In fact, she was one of the youngest kids on the team. But, she enjoyed going and made a few friends and had a good year. She didn’t have all the skills the other girls had so she wasn’t in a bunch of the pyramids or stunts parts of the routine, but she was SMILING. She smiled all year. She was happy.
Cheerleading isn’t a sport I particularly enjoy watching. The music is way too loud and the music all sounds the same. The routines are amazing though. Watching them flip and throw each other in the air is extremely exciting and very nerve racking as a Dad. Plus, my daughter LOVES it. She loves the hair, the makeup, the routines, the competitions, all of it… so, it’s seems to be her passion so I get as involved as I can without driving myself crazy. If there is cheerleading or gymnastics on the tv, I yell for Kiley to come watch with me. We spend a lot of time together because of our schedules, but any chance I can sneak a few more minutes with her I will take it.
Anyway, this year, her team was good! They won a few competitions but lost out on a Summit bid a couple times because another team had a higher overall score in a different division. On the few occasions they might have had a chance to win one they had a fall in a routine and just missed out on a bid. As the year got later and later I would ask her about Summit and she was would say she wanted to make it. As parents, who went to Disney TWICE in 2 months last year, we were secretly praying they did not get a bid. Our wallets needed a break!
After she competed on Sunday of last week and we sat in the stands watching some other teams I asked her “Do you really want to win a bid today?” and she said “Yes, but I think I just want it to say we won, and to spend a day in Disney” and I thought that was the perfect response. What kid doesn’t want a “free” trip to Disney? As the teams she was competing against went and we watched them do really well it started to sink in with her that they were not going to win. So I asked her another question, “Do you want to still do cheerleading next year?” and she looked at me like I was an alien. There was no way she was going to say no, and I could actually feel it. So, I smiled.
We sat together and waited for her awards to start, ate some nachos and laughed a little bit. It was just her and I at this competition because the wife and oldest daughter had a dance competition. I got like six hours with just her. We didn’t solve world hunger or make any life changing decisions; we talked about farts and the cheese sauce I spilled on my jeans. But, again, she was smiling. It’s all I ever really want to see as a Dad.
On the two hour ride home from the competition we talked about cheerleading for a few minutes, about being disappointed not going to Disney, but how this year was a really good year for her. Being a 12 year old girl in this world must be a NIGHTMARE. But, she is handling it with amazing grace. She’s smart, beautiful, confident and insecure all at the same time. And for the last hour of the car ride home we fought about the radio station and the temperature in the car. A perfect way to end a completely perfect day with a 12 year old!
She’s 12 and she’s smiling….so, we both won today.