This is a time of year that parents (and grandparents) await with a range of emotions: Spring sports schedules collide with graduations ceremonies, final exams, concerts, and other major events. The season demands flexibility, spontaneity, and a lot of work to keep a household running smoothly. It also offers opportunities to show you care by cheering on those you love. Nothing beats having someone there yelling for you when you get up to bat, take the stage, or walk in a procession.
But summer days loom on the horizon with a lighter load, and hopefully they will be filled with activities that are more positive choices than obligations. Yes, it is wonderful when someone actually enjoys the effort involved in learning a new skill. But the fact is, not everything we need to do in life is appealing. I just recently set aside time, learned sets of new computer skills, and began to clean up my photo files. I didn’t love this activity. But having my files in order will make finding what I want so much easier in the future.
As always, my husband was my cheerleader. He understood that I would rather be putting plants in the ground for our August delight, concocting something exotic for our dinner, or even writing an essay. I would have preferred to take a bike ride with him. But the time had come to tackle a messy task. His cheering me on was love made useful.
What forms can cheerleading take?
The most obvious cheers are those that say “you can do it.” It is important to not be a “dream-killer.” The child who fancies himself a future Derek Jeter, but has always struggled with eye-hand coordination, needs your enthusiasm as much as the star pitcher or shortstop. They also need tiny steps and rewards for accomplishments as they conquer each one. My daughter played in the outfield for the Mountain Laurel Mets throughout her childhood, never actually hitting the ball that I remember. But she showed up for every game, was cheerful and supportive of her team, and gave it her all. I could congratulate her on her effort, how fast she ran after that line drive coming towards her, the way she kept track of what was happening when her team was at bat. She wanted to play, and I cheered her on. Winning is not the only reward; knowing you committed your full effort fuels self-respect. Cheerleaders can help you discover this useful, lifelong truth.
The challenges of helping someone you love do what they want (or need) to do — whether it is taking a complicated array of dance classes or following a demanding schedule of physical therapy — can be daunting. Providing the logistical support needed to make the auditions possible or the course of treatment optimal can be seen as the acts of loving that they are.
When parents provide uniforms or costumes for their children, or when my husband makes sure that I am never out of pens and paper or toner cartridges for the printer, an implicit cheering on for a passion acknowledges its importance to the loved one.
How does cheerleading show love?
It reflects a commitment to Showing Up. It requires Choosing. It can nudge a loved one in a direction that is intrinsically satisfying or growth-promoting. A nudge from someone you trust can be all that is needed to run a little further, push a little harder, or stick with a task a bit longer.
Why does cheerleading show love?
One of my more difficult choices was between a student’s scheduled dissertation defense and my son-in-law’s grandmother’s hastily arranged funeral hundreds of miles away. Neither event was movable in time or space, and they were mutually exclusive. I have almost always chosen love over duty. To this day, my son-in-law knows that my husband and I cared enough to get in the car and “be there,” regardless of what else might have been on our plates. He knows we were saying “we love you.” Even better, we knew we were saying it.
The girl determined to be a basketball star will learn soon enough that a different path may better suit her gifts and abilities. But she will always remember that she can count on those who love her to support her in what she wants. The lessons she learned playing ball may be exactly those she needs when, years later, she is a key member of a tech team working on a cure for a rare disease.
The benefits of support in close relationships require little comment. Knowing that others are behind your efforts can help you persevere in the face of disappointment or rejection, to revise and resubmit as many times as it takes, and to know that your fears can be overcome by the faith of those who love you.
Have you ever been tempted to abandon a passion for lack of a cheerleader? Has a person encouraging you to persevere, to move forward, or to return to the task made the difference in your ability to blast through a barrier? Have you served as cheerleader for someone else? What was the result? How did it make you feel?
Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower