But I Don’t Want My Kid to Lose!

The July 19, 2016, Tallahassee Democrat story which reported a student is threatening legal action because she was not selected for the Leon High School Cheerleading Squad has traveled far beyond our county’s boundaries. (It’s in Buzzfeed, the New York Daily News, and Teen Vogue, to name just a few publications which have shared the piece.)

In one comment I read on Facebook, a Leon Alum shared with his fellow alums, “I am just PRAYING there is another Leon High School out there,” citing how embarrassing it was for this story to be prominent on a local site in a state far from Florida. Nope, friend, that’s “our” Leon. (I am a proud parent of a Leon alum, hold the school in high regard, and would prefer the national stories to highlight Leon’s fabulous positive assets, like the Mane Event’s version of I Want You Back).

The Dissatisfied Cheerleader (and the Dissatisfied Cheerleader’s Mom)

After reading hundreds of comments which all essentially said some version of “suck it up buttercup,” “this is the problem with kids today,” and “her parents aren’t doing her any favors,” I’m at a bit of a loss re: what to add. My sentiments are, in many ways, aligned with theirs.

But if you know me, you know I love a blogging challenge, so I decided to take a page out of Mama Kat’s book and give this situation a soundtrack (she had a June writing prompt encouraging bloggers to “create a summer playlist”).

Track One: High School Student Wants To Be Able to Say “We Are Cheerleaders”

I definitely empathize with a high school student who wants to be a cheerleader. I did not try out for cheerleading at my high school until I was a rising senior. To this day, 35 years later, I can still feel how my gut was clenching with nerves as I sat in class waiting for tryout time. I did make it, and am SO glad to have the memory of being part of the cheer squad at my school. But I went to a very small high school; there’s no way my rudimentary skills would have qualified me at a large school like Leon. I can only imagine how fierce the competition is. I understand (I think) how fervently this student hoped to make the team for her senior year.

Track Two: The Student Did Not Make the Squad

According to the story, the student, a rising high school senior who cheered for Leon last year, tried out for the 2016-17 squad and was not selected. According to the story, she fell twice during the tumbling portion of the tryouts. The song says it best: you can’t always get what you want.

Track Three: Mama’s Not Happy (Daddy Either)

In Faint, Linkin Park sings, “Don’t turn your back on me I won’t be ignored.” By escalating the issue and filing a complaint with Leon County Schools, this student and her family have made it clear they have not accepted the decision of the tryout panel.

Track Four: To Reiterate, Mama’s Not Happy (Daddy Either)

Sorry y’all, there are just too many great “angry rock songs” to stop at one. Some of the lyrics of this one just seem so custom-made for the situation:

  • I am fueled by all forms of failure (note: not saying this kid is a failure in general, but in this case of the tryout, she failed to make the team)
  • I’ll take what’s mine
  • The reasons why you passed me by/Will always hold you down

These parents (and this student) want her on the team even though she did not meet the criteria to make it. They want to take “what is hers” (even though it isn’t).

Track Five: Teaching Your Child to Accept Disappointment is One of Parenting’s Hardest Responsibilities

Truth: One of the reasons I have yet to comment publicly on this story is the fear that one of my children’s former teachers will call me out. I have done my FAIR SHARE of helicoptering and trying to shield my children from disappointment. All I can say is we grow, learn, and evolve as parents. Yes, I complained when my son didn’t get recognized in the first grade science fair (I know … this was so much more about my hurt feelings than his). Knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t!

But I do know that taking this particular route, especially if the parents complained to the district office before trying to address via the coach and principal (I can’t confirm who they talked to (if anyone) before going to the district), when by all accounts their child simply did not qualify, doesn’t teach their child anything about accepting the outcome and moving on.

Teaching the child well in this situation, in my opinion, would involve a) providing support at a time of disappointment, b) exploring (if the student is open to it) what she could have done differently in order for this to be a growth experience, and c) taking the high road (not badmouthing the students who DID make it, remaining civil to the coach, supporting the school, etc.).

Track Six: Is This Entire Generation an Entitled Mess?

SO many of the comments, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, were some variation of “that sense of entitlement is the problem.” There’s a whole song about that, so of course it needs to be part of this post! (The song is really about some other issues besides the cheerleading tryout issue, but how could I not include a song called “Entitled”?). Relevant lyrics:

  • It’s not all about you
  • You’re not entitled to anything
  • You actually believe the world owes you somethin’
  • You’re not entitled to anything. You’re just like me.
  • The world owes you nothin’

Track Seven: We May Disagree But We Still Must Lean on Each Other

I don’t want to close out this playlist on the “entitled” concept. I had some difficulty choosing a song to represent how the student involved in this situation is STILL a child deserving of our compassion and nurturing. Her parents are STILL community members and are part of the fabric of who we are as a community, making Tallahassee the wonderful place it is. We still have to lean on each other.

As I have thought about this post this week, I reminisced about people who were honest with me about situations with my children, even when I was strident or accusatory. About Judy Kuhnle, who sent a patiently worded email explaining the qualities a gymnast needed to move on to the next level (strength, flexibility, and teachability). About Kelly Tucker who knew my kid well and picked up the phone to talk with me personally when I had suggested he do a tennis activity he was in no way ready for (which is what she told me — it was pretty easy to digest since I knew she was coming from a place of concern). About all the other people in this town who have been part of educating, training, and nurturing my kids (and, concurrently, me as a parent).

If we all go off to our separate corners, hurling accusations at one another, it’s unlikely that situations will be resolved positively and it’s highly likely that the students involved will learn nothing that will help them navigate a world that is, to be frank, often ugly, unyielding, and certainly not generous in delivering on outcomes we haven’t earned.

And fortunately, “trying out” to be a caring community member is as easy as cheering each other on, in victory AND defeat.

NOTE: In a conversation with Amanda Curcio, the reporter who produced the original story, she clarified the statement, “She didn’t initially make the varsity team last year…” The clarification: “The girl was not originally selected last year to be a cheerleader. But her parents made a similar complaint and [she] was put on the team – after not making it at the tryouts. The head coach who is there now was hired after this…”

Cheerleader Tryout Protest

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

I Won’t Give Up (On Finding the Perfect Playlist)

I have been meaning to write about my running playlist for a while. I finally found the impetus to do it when Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor of our Tallahassee Democrat, runner, and Move Tallahassee enthusiast, blogged about his list and asked, “So what’s on your playlist to keep you moving?”

Music ImageMy list is not static.  Songs that make me feel incredibly pumped up and motivated for weeks suddenly grow stale and find themselves replaced. But for that period that they’re “in,” they have a combination of great beat, musical novelty, and contagiousness that gets me through many miles and various workouts from my coach that have me running all kinds of combinations of heart rate zones and distances.

The WarmUp Song

I am pretty sure Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys will always be my warm-up song. Its beat is “medium” enough for a warmup and each time I play it, it’s a little tiny homage to my favorite place. Ironically, I miss my favorite place so much right now that I can’t bear to listen to the song so I’ve been going straight to the fast stuff.

Tunes I Love

Shake Señora by Pitbull featuring T-Pain and Sean Paul

Jump by FloRida (The Chocolate Puma full vocal mix)

Scream & Shout by will.i.am featuring Britney Spears

Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton

Magic by B.o.B. (featuring Rivers Cuomo)

Universal Mind Control by Common

Till The World Ends by Britney Spears (The Bloody Beatroots Extended Remix)

Run by Flo Rida (featuring RedFoo – Bonus Track)

Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden

Be Good To Yourself by Journey

Timebomb by Kylie Minogue (Extended Version)

Turn Up the Radio by Madonna (Offer Nissim Remix)

Include Me Out by Robbyn

T.H.E. Hardest Ever by will.i.am (featuring Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez)

Lose Yourself by Eminem

Electricity by Ashley Jana

What I’ve Done by Linkin Park

For Cool Downs

Just Give Me A Reason by Pink featuring Nate Ruess

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

But Wait!! There’s More!!

When I got back into running (in 2008) and started searching for music, I relied quite heavily for a while on “beats per minute” mixes. Now, I primarily use those when I am doing speedwork at the track or when I particularly want to focus on form and consistency. The ones I have used and recommend include:

Beats Per Minute Music

Podrunner Podrunner is the first “beats per minute” podcast service I subscribed to. DJ Steve Boyett (who is also an author!) works hard to create this free podcast (there are technical considerations, music licensing negotiations, and a whole host of things besides slapping together catchy tunes).

Motiontraxx Motiontraxx has added a lot of options since I began downloading their podcast a few years ago. There are now apps for iPhone and Android, and there are mixes/coaching cues for HIIT workouts and other activities besides running.

BeatRunning I don’t have as much of a “relationship” with BeatRunning as I feel like I do with Podrunner and Motiontraxx; I just bought some of their mixes off of iTunes. They’re the ones I happen to use most frequently now — a solid 180 bpm of something that I can try to attach my cadence to.

Audiobooks

I love audiobooks. I go through them rapidly. If I have a long Zone 2 (conversational pace) run planned, I will frequently listen to an audiobook. The miles can go back a lot more painlessly if you’re wrapped up in a biography or great fiction story.

Podcasts

There are so many fantastic podcasts out there. It was through podcasts that I have ended up with some of my favorite running connections.  The first running podcast I ever listened to was Chris Russell’s RunRunLive (fortunately I wasn’t too thrown off by the first five minutes being about mountain goat hygiene services (Chris has a quirky sense of humor). I was introduced to it by Ann Brennan of Ann’s Running Commentary. She now has her own running podcast at Ann’s Running Commentary. Both of these podcasts have my highest recommendation.

Nothing

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a bit of credit to running without earbuds, without someone else talking or singing into your ear. And of course this doesn’t actually mean you’re listening to “nothing.” If you are working on your running form, you have a chance to listen to your “light fast feet” (or the fact that they’re not as light and fast as you thought!). Birds, traffic, animals, other people, the thoughts bumping around in your head. Sometimes it’s best to leave all the music/talk at home and just run.

A Note About Safety

While I love running with the various songs, books, and podcasts mentioned above, I want to remind you (assuming teacher/mom/coach voice here) that safety is key. This article has a few tips about running safely with headphones (some of which I defy on a daily basis but they’re good food for thought).

But Enough About Me

What are your faves? Let me know in the comments!

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.