I am a soccer mom impersonator. This is not to be confused with a true soccer mom. I believe, to be a true soccer mom, a woman must have some idea of what their child is doing on that field kicking that round thing back and forth. I don’t. I’m told to just sit in the bleachers and be quiet, because apparently, my commentary gives away my ignorance. When other Moms see their child kicking at the little round thing, they yell, “Pass it. Good shot!” I’m inclined to shout, “Point your foot, Dear.” (After all, if a girl is gonna kick her leg, I figure she would want to do so gracefully.)
Anyone who knows this family as the former first family of FLEX can appreciate how huge a step (regarding personal growth) this whole soccer thing is. It’s a leap of faith, and I’m not talking a “tour jete”, which comes much more natural to us dancers. Sports. I’m struggling to adapt. However, it isn’t easy, considering our history.
In August, I took my daughter to the sports and recreation department to sign her up for an activity. We looked over the list and I said, “Why not cheerleading?”
Neva looked at me, horrified, and said, “I could never be a cheerleader. You hate cheerleaders. Everyone knows that.”
I pointed out that “hate” is a pretty strong a word. Besides which, I don’t dislike cheerleaders, only cheerleading, and that was before. Mine wasn’t an all-inclusive prejudice. I only didn’t like cheerleading when it applied to my dancers. I happened to be a cheerleader myself when I was young, though I kept that personal fact to myself as the director of FLEX. True, I was not too keen on sports, gymnastics, Community Theater, band, etc., but only because these endeavors dragged the attention away from serious dance training, making it nearly impossible to get the attendance required to lead kids to dance success. However, my frowning down on cheerleading wasn’t a personal issue. I just worked so hard to keep the serious students focused that, over time, I developed a mild distain for all those obstacles that continued to make the quest difficult. And I didn’t hate every recreational activity. I liked scouting – but that was because it teaches children community awareness and a broad spectrum of humanitarian pursuits, which helps them to be stronger individuals . . . , which leads to become more remarkable artists. You see, in the end, everything was judged by how it would influence the dance spectrum.
I told Neva that, considering she no longer dances, I now feel differently. Cheerleading might be fun for her. I happen to know that cheerleaders get to be center stage at ballgames, where the boys are, and that has its perks. It also is a wonderful outlet for a case of full-blown energy (which she has in abundance). Then, there is the fact that this activity takes some coordination and acrobatic skills, which she also has. All told, I thought it would probably suit her.
She picked soccer. Therefore, twice a week we go to rehearsals (“It’s a practice, Mom”, they always correct me) and she kicks the black and white round thing around, running about 50 miles during that hour. (Makes her a good candidate for cross-country running, I’m thinking, and that is a sport I understand.) Nevertheless, she is rather good at soccer I’m told, surprisingly enough.
Therefore, I’ve become the notorious cliché, – a soccer mom. I have learned that I can yell if I use generic terms. It is safe to shout, “Go, Neva.” or “good shot,” if the round thing lands in the net thing. This is not appreciated when this happens on the opposite side of the field, because that means the other team is getting points. Oops.
I figure my understanding for the game is irrelevant. What is important is that I am there, being supportive. I have washed and ironed her costume (“It’s a uniform Mom. Duh.”) and I always have cold, icy waters for her breaks. I sit in the stands clapping, whistling, and cheering. But inside, I am looking at those beautiful young bodies on the field thinking what wonderful dancers they would make. I am admiring their energy, their long lean legs, the way they spin around to change directions. . (it’s such a short step away from executing a chaine turn.) I look around at the happy faces of the parents, sad because in dance, all I saw was scowls and all I heard was complaints. Why are the parents so angry all the time at dance, but so inclined to laugh and enjoy sports for the sheer fun of it? I am, quite honestly, jealous of the light and friendly attitude of everyone participating. Maybe, I should have held my rehearsals outside. Perhaps it’s the open space, the green grass and blue sky, which keeps parent perspective in check.
Last night, when we were going to bed, I asked Mark how his day had been. He looked at me, sighed and said, “I am missing my students this week horribly. Don’t know why. It just hits me sometimes.”
I understood that completely.
For everything gained, something is lost. Some days, the loss feels more poignant than others. That, I guess, is a part of personal growth too. I am very comfortable with the fact that my children no longer dance. I think they did so only because they were railroaded into it by nature of our family structure. And for them, dance was never just about dance. There were other issues muddying the water, such as the way it interfered with family time, or how it stretched the “unconditional love” issue, (it is a delicate thing to be both a devoted teacher and devoted parent, because it demands two opposing attitudes). Now, my kids can discover their true calling without influence. Dance just wasn’t there thing, but that doesn’t alleviate the fact that it was my thing. And when I see that the world is full of kids who don’t dance, it still leaves me unsettled. I’ve always claimed dance is good for the soul, a great way to developing discipline and personal integrity. I didn’t preach that because I owned a dance school and I was selling a product. I believed it. I believe it still. Guess that is why I would feel so much better if the soccer players would point their feet when they kick.
They say, “Keep your eye on the ball.” I think that is good advice, the kind I should take myself, for watching it is certain to make sitting through the game easier. That way, I’ll stop eyeballing all those kids, silently mourning the fact that they don’t dance.
One game, I saw a beautiful, young redhead girl walk by, giggling and flipping her hair in a punky way. I turned to my sister-in-law and said, “Wow, doesn’t that girl look exactly like Anna?”
She said, “Anna who?”
“Anna, our most beautiful dancer who was the prison guard in Mark’s fantastic behind bars dance.” I said, as if that was the dumbest question of all time.
She rolled her eyes, shook her head, and said, “You see them everywhere, don’t you.”
I do. And even when I don’t, they are in my head. And my heart. . . And on the field . . . and in the grocery store . . . and at the football game . . . and the horseback riding arena . . . and mostly . . . in my dreams.