By Daphne Biener
Hello. My name is Daphne and I am a hypocrite.
It’s not what you’re thinking. We decided long ago to be open and honest with our kids when it came time to talk about drugs and sex. We haven’t gotten there yet. No, my problem is, well, my daughter Kira. This brilliant, talented, amazing kid wants to be a cheerleader. The princesses were one thing, but this? I don’t think I can handle this one.
Once upon a time I considered myself the epitome of liberal thought and open-mindedness. My enlightened children would be anything they wanted to be. So what that society insists girls play Barbie and boys build trucks? I, for one, would not let gender-bias limit the dreams and talents of my girls. Race car drivers? Astronauts? My girls would buck all stereotypes, leaving doubters behind to eat their race car dust.
I was never a girly-girl. To this day I shop only under duress and live contentedly in my well-worn jeans. The girls’ propensity for pink must come from their father’s DNA. Our house is full of this crap. Silky gowns, purple high heels, bejeweled crowns – it’s everywhere. The fluffier the tulle the better. Sparkles, glitter, and pink, pink, pink. A few years ago, following a particularly wonderful check-up, my pediatrician asked if I had any questions. Childhood ailments and anything serious safely off the table, I mustered up enough humility to ask about the fever – the princess fever. The doctor laughed, and promised me they’d outgrow it.
And they did. They are far too busy these days with monkey bars and jump-ropes to be slowed down by plastic pumps. But now the Cinderella gown, abandoned in a glittery heap in the corner, looks positively innocuous compared to the real life horror that looms before us: pre-pre-prepubescent cheerleaders.
I have a ugly little secret. It was long ago, but ok, I admit it. I was a cheerleader. But I can be honest. I was a cheerleader to get boys. To get attention. And yes, I wanted to shake it, shake it, shake it, in an inappropriately short skirt so that everyone would turn and look at me. I’m not saying I’m particularly proud of this, I’m just telling it like it is.
So maybe now you understand my dilemma? Now you can see why I am mortified by the mere idea of my sweet 7 year-old as a cheerleader. But what’s a mother to do? Must I tell her the truth? Please say that I can I keep my past a secret. No, never mind. Just forget it. I’m going back to bed. Wake me when it’s time to talk about smoking.
You can read more of Daphne’s work here on the mama bird diaries or visit her site, Sestina Queen.