I grew up on a farm in the middle of Kansas, as most of you know. And when I say "small town football" I don't think a lot of you quite understand what I mean. Not really, anyway. Let's just say that when I was taking my husband home for my 10 year high school reunion I had him watch the entire first three seasons of Friday Night Lights to get amply prepared. And then I told him "scale down the school and exaggerate the pride..." believe it or not, that is how it really was. (Did I mention my graduating class was 16 students?)
To make matters worse/better, I was a cheerleader. True story. And I'm not gonna lie - I totally loved it, and was pretty darn good at it (hey, I conquered the toe-touch back then, so that has to count for something). We had a little squad of 6 super-perky girls, ready to sis-boom-bah you into a win every Friday night. I was the tiny freshman "flyer" they would prop up in the air, pom-pons a fluttering, and cheering the audience into a Thunderbird spirit frenzy! After all, we were the T-Birds (the mighty, mighty T-Birds).
I remember loving pep rallies - getting the school all fired up for the big game, a nice chill in the air (they actually have seasons in Kansas) and helping paint posters that our boys would soon destroy as they ran onto the field. I totally remember feeling important - feeling noticed - and the drama of high school would fade into the background for those four quarters that our columbia blue and white padded soldiers took battle on the fifty yard line...or was that the twenty yard line?...or...was that the first down?...it didn't matter. My hair was cute, my skirt was ironed, my shoes were shiny...I was a cheerleader.
Watching the high schoolers on Friday night brought it all back for me - all those memories of school spirit and go-big-blue pride. The CLHS cheerleaders were far better than I ever was - it almost made me nervous for them thinking how much more pressure there must be these days to be a cheerleader in high schools today. But, well, they seemed thrilled to be out there, so hey, I'll smile and clap and accept the fact that when you look at me, miss cheerleader, you don't see a girl who is sorta dying to jump out there and try to do a "herkie"....you see a mom. You see me, with my baby bjorn on, rocking my Saints sweatshirt, holding a half-eaten hot dog. That's right. And you bet I will clap with you and for you and help you cheer on those Saints! And you're welcome.
Yup. I'm old. And I can no longer do those high kicks or jumps, and frankly, no one wants to see me in that short of a skirt, thank you very much. But kid, I got something that makes me more cheerful than any bubble-letter-poster ever could: perspective.
On our way home from the game, Josh and I were sort of high from all the school spirit, reminiscing about our own high school days. I said, "wouldn't it have been great to just go back for a day, but with this brain - this amount of wisdom and perspective that we've gained so far?"
Sort of the quintessential "what would you tell your high school self" kinda question. Man, to relive that time (which honestly, I wouldn't ever want to do - my glory days of popularity were extremely short lived) knowing how little it all mattered. No worries about who is dating who (Is she wearing his letterman jacket?) or having a cow over the tiniest things (I can not believe my mom didn't wash my Jordache jeans, she doesn't understand anything obviously) or caring so so so so so incredibly much about ourselves constantly (think how many times you must have used the phrase "Oh, I know" when you were a teenager...and how you really, actually, truly did not, in fact, know). Well, it might be fun to go back for a day with that perspective and appreciation (totally having a Zac-Efron-in-Seventeen-Again moment here) and just have fun.
Until time travel is a viable option, however, we'll just have to be grateful to be all grown up, having this Friday-night-lightbulb-moment for the time being. It's nice to be here - with my baby bjorn, my comfortable sneakers and sense of security...thankful for the high school memories I have, good and bad, and mostly glad that I don't have to go through it ever again.
Now, hold my hot dog for me so I can go grab my toddler before she runs onto the field and gets tackled...