How An Innocent Pep Rally Can Invoke Future Child Humiliation
Two years ago, my daughter Hadley and our family were delighted to walk the parade route of the Arvada Harvest Festival with Arvada West High School’s cheerleaders. She was one of many kindergarteners from six elementary schools that feed into the high school who took part in this local tradition.
We looked forward to doing the same thing with our newly-minted kindergartener Bode this year until I realized I would be having knee surgery the week prior. As I started conjuring up possible solutions like decorating a wheelchair or handcart and having my pioneers haul me around, I stopped dead in my tracks. And remembered The Parade Walk of 2009.
It was my first event since my daughter entered elementary school. Parents were encouraged to participate and, if they were pulling wagons, to decorate those as well. It was then something very ugly was triggered. Something that I did not know even existed in the deep recesses of my mind. Some would call it school spirit. Others would call it obnoxious parents who go overboard.
You see, I was always highly competitive in sports but I wouldn’t say I had a lot of school spirit. Who could blame me? Our junior high mascot was a hippo. It’s tough to get psyched when someone calls you a barrel-shaped artiodactyl mammal.
The emergence of Said School Spirit came with a complication: Arvada West’s school colors are purple and white. As a general life policy, I hate The Color Purple.
Oprah surely would not approve.
So Hadley and I rushed to Target on a mission to purchase all things purple. That purple Tinker Bell tablecloth? I cut it out to cover our wagon.
Those purple markers, streamers and pompoms? They were perfect for the sign I made that said “Future Wildcat” on one side and “Cheer!” on the other.
I bought purple eyeliner to graffiti ’22 on her cheek and the leftover poster paper for the sign became the bumper for our wagon that I cut out in the shape of a Wildcat and christened it “The Wildcat-mobile.”
Not too bad for a school spirit rookie, eh?
We awoke on parade day to the threat of rain. Undeterred, I prophesied, “It will not rain on our parade!”
And it didn’t. All the children had the time of their lives parading down the streets behind the marching band and cheerleaders. Really, the only downer of the day was upon arrival when I parked the car near the parade finish and proceeded to trek 1.5 miles to where we were supposed to meet.
I knew Hadley would likely get tired walking 3 miles round-trip so I had her ride in the wagon. This was met with great resistance but she finally relented. At one point, we passed some kids and Hadley complained to them “I HATE riding in the wagon.”
So as not to lose face with her peers, of course.
I had to break it to her that my newfound school spirit obsession? This would be the first of many times I would surely humiliate her and her brother.