Friday nights at the football game for the last few years have always been about my oldest daughter and her dance team. I love that dance family, and I love my daughter being on that team. They were GOOD. And I embrace being a dance dad. You know that if you have ever read more than 2 stories I’ve written. I can speak a little bit of the dance language. I’m like your buddy who can kind of speak Spanish so when you go to Costa Rica on vacation you lean on him to help with rides and finding the closest bars and restaurants. So, if a bunch of Dads got lost and ended up in the middle of a flash mob or a tryout for So You Think You Can Dance, I’d be the guy you look to for help to understand what the hell is happening.
I hardly ever even really knew what’s happening in the football game. I’m more concerned with making sure my niece Maya is not interrupting Meg and her team as they cheered from the stands and prepared for their half time routine. Halftime was always my Super Bowl. I really enjoyed watching my Meg dance with her team. Dance is where she is the best form of herself in my opinion. But, with her graduating my football half time watching time was over. I figured I’d end up at a few games because my youngest would want to go to the games and I would probably stay till half time just to see her old team, but I knew it wasn’t going to be every Friday or every game type of thing.
And then my youngest, Ki, made the varsity cheer team. I was so excited for her to make it. When kids try out for stuff it’s hard on a parent. Right, you either get to be really excited for them or you have to console them and work to build them back up. As a Dad I’m always stressed to the max when my kids are at a tryout. But she works hard at cheerleading and she’s always traveling with her all-star cheer team, so I was excited to see her make this team. A good chance to meet some new people and be part of a team at her school.
It also meant that I get to go back to Friday night half time shows, okay, okay, Friday night football games. We would get to sort of just experience all this again but as cheer parents. All that nervous energy getting to see my daughter perform was back. The last couple years for my oldest we really got to enjoy watching the performances. We didn’t really have to worry about her. She was, and her team really was, excellent. They were a very well coached team. But I remember all those butterflies when she first made the team. I remember myself and my wife being incredibly nervous at the beginning. And now, with our youngest we would have all those same feelings.
My Kiley sometimes I feel like gets the short end of the stick as they say. Everything her older sister did was first. Whatever she does is compared to her sister. She’s her own, completely unique kid, but some stuff she probably can’t escape comparison to her sister. I’m guilty of it all the time. Meghan did this, Meghan did that. I sometimes forget that my Kiley is going through all these firsts for herself. Sure, she may have a blueprint or a path to follow because of her sister so maybe she knows more, but she is doing things her own way. And I love it, and I need to get better at just letting her be, letting her experience all those events without her dad comparing and contrasting to her older sister.
Her first home Friday night football game started off as no different. Where would we sit, with the old dance team parents we have been with for years, or with some of these new cheerleader parents? Would we walk by Meghan’s car somewhere in the parking lot? Can’t miss that rust on the top of her car. The feeling of how weird it’s going to be not being known there. Going back to being these new parents on a team we really knew nothing about. Sounds weird I’m sure, but we spent four years with Meghan on that team, and years before that as she wanted to watch that team perform and be around that program. We are, well we were, dance team parents. It’s a weird thing to not be a part of everything that is dance team. But then my niece Maya tugged at my leg and asked to sit with me and watch Kiley cheer. And everything disappeared and I just watched my little girl who couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she danced and cheer and was loving being on the sidelines with her team. I couldn’t take my eyes off my cheerleader as she did her thing. I know that I always blow up these little, tiny moments into these big deals. I know it was just a Friday night football game. I know there will be a million more. I know I know I know. But I also know what that felt like as her dad. All at once she was telling me this was her time, order your damn “Weymouth Cheerleading” sweatshirt and get used to this. God damn it felt good to watch her take her spot.
Having girls is so damn awesome. I have no clue where they will take me next but I’m here for it all. I don’t know what I ever did to get to watch these two girls grow up, but I’ll never ever take it granted. Forever and always the luckiest damn guy there ever was….
I guess you can just call me Cheer Dad now….
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