There were around 150 students -- in grades 1-12. Yes, it was a small school. So things were done a little differently. For two or three years prior to junior high the girls in my class often talked about being a cheerleader. In our tiny town, that was one of the most prestigious and "popular" thing a girl could aspire to. The junior high basketball team had four girl cheerleaders, and they were "elected" every year. Finally, we were in 7th grade! Shortly after the school year started, we were told that the next Friday all the 7th and 8th graders were going to vote on who the cheerleaders would be. Oh, the anticipation was high! Will I get it? Will I get it? I didn't mention anything to my mother because I know she would say I needed to withdraw my name. If I didn't tell her, and I was elected, there is no way she could take that away from me. This was the most important thing in a 7th grade girl's life! And, besides, my brother, Tom, was on the basketball team. How could she NOT let me do this??
Friday finally came, the votes were counted, and YES! I was one of the elected cheerleaders! I was so excited. But with great trepidation, I broached the subject with my mother that evening. Surely she would be happy for me; be proud of me; understand how important this was to me. "Mom," I said, "I'm going to be a cheerleader." "No you're not," she replied. "But I was already elected!", I cried. "That's too bad. We're not going to start driving you all over the place and pay for those silly uniforms. You better let them know on Monday that you can't do it." My heart fell, but I would not give up. I had all weekend to work on her. And, she didn't know it, but on Monday after school I was meeting with the rest of the cheerleaders to pick out our outfits. I planned to stay overnight with my friend, so there would be no inconvenience for my parents.
By Monday morning, the answer was still "No!" But I didn't let on to the other girls. Together we went through the catalogs, choosing the skirt, the sweater and the shoes. I began to worry about how to pay for them, as it was more money than I had. Tuesday night, I approached the subject with with my mom again, and it was not a pleasant conversation. It ended up with me crying in my room behind my locked door once again. I knew I had lost the battle. Knowing I could not face the class without crying, I wrote a note to my friend and had my brother give it to her the next morning. And I played "sick" and stayed home.
Oh, life went on. I went to a few basketball games and cheered on our team from the stands. I listened to the cheerleaders talking, I watched them practice, I told them what a good job they were doing. But this big disappointment rooted deep in my heart. Throughout the years, if I looked hard enough, I could sense a little resentment against my mother -- buried deeply within me.
If she had died in her 80's - there is a lesson I would never have learned. I'm glad she didn't die in her 80's.