Share This Post

Children / Colorado Livin' / Humor / Motherhood / School

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.

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

Share This Post

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


  1. Hilarious! I am one of those parents too but I always knew I would be because I was that annoying school spirit person in HS.

  2. You? Competitive? What a shock!

  3. I suppose I deserved that. 🙂

  4. How can you hate purple? It is a glorious color, Amber! Embrace the purple.

  5. Geez …. it kind of scares me some days how similar we really are. If it provides you with any comfort, I would have done the exact same thing, however would have relished my son or daughter’s discomfort while I got to experience the school spirit that I was should have discovered in my youth.

    What a great, fun Mom you are. And you know what? I am pretty sure that your little diva knows it too. 🙂

  6. Funny you should say that because Haddie’s friend always tells her mom I am more fun than her. My daughter, on the other hand? Would never admit to it in a million years. 🙂

  7. Oh noes!!! Hadley’s going to grow up to be a wildcat?

    Go Big Black!

  8. Big Black? As in The Plague? 🙂

  9. So, you’re telling me we need to research the school colors now? That sounds like a good thing to put on the little list of criteria I have going! 😉

  10. I’ve never heard of this kind of parade theme. It’s pretty cute! A great way to involve the kids in future education aspirations!

    A hippo?! I can see how that would be a difficult mascot to inspire school spirit. We were the Fighting Knights! Purple & Gold! At football games, our mascot always came riding on to the field a top a horse, in a suit of armor carrying a lance & shield! I’m trying to imagine the hippo running (or waddling) on to the field. Yeah, not very rousing. Hee hee.

  11. Sigh. Don’t knock the hippo. We had a GREAT fight song:

    What do ya do to the Hippo you meet? You get down on your knees, you can’t pray on your feet. You ask the mighty Hippo for the mercy he gives…and maybe, just MAYBE…he’ll let you live.


  12. I am with you on this one, although my lack of school spirit was in direct correlation to the fact that our colors were purple and gold. The gold might have been alright, but in practice they used cat puke yellow, a color that is flattering on no one! Thankfully, my son’s school colors will be black and white 🙂

    Also, you must be making up the Hippo thing…are you sure it wasn’t a Canadian Moose?

  13. What kind of fight song could you have with a moose? I guess something about the killer rack but then the girls would get teased a lot. 🙂

  14. i warned my children at a very young age that it was the job of a parent to embarrass their children. to reinforce that thinking, i constantly found ways to invoke my right as a parent =)

  15. I am very impressed. I think Hadley will look back on this happily…it may not be for years but she will, one day, be very, very happy!

  16. Whew, such a relief. 🙂

  17. I’ll trade your hippo for my MULE!!! Horrible!

  18. School spirit? Is your school haunted?
    Okay… that wasn’t that funny. But my school spirit is about at the same level as a ghost… nonexistent. 🙂

  19. Amber, I never get tired of your hilarious stories. Hadley’s got the makings of a great book – keep taking these awesome notes for her! 🙂

Leave a Reply