I’m 32. I realize that I’m not that old, but ever since I moved back to my hometown I have been feeling nostalgic. Nostalgia is a funny thing; it seems to takes all the memories, filters them to keep only the best parts, and leaves all the rest behind. As I am signing up my oldest for more activities and pre-k classes, I find myself wishing for the “good old days” of my childhood, and just hoping that my kids have a childhood where they can remember those same best parts that I do.
My great memories of childhood are simple ones: parents waking you up way before you want to, getting to school before the last bell rings, walking around with an absurd amount of gel pens, all the teachers knowing you by name (and referring to you as “so and so’s sister”), and going through each class until the end of the day when you could participate in a plethora of after school activities.
But some of my most beautiful memories are of my parents’ involvement in my sporting events, whether it be their role as a volunteer coach, their dedication to attend every game, or listening as I tried to navigate the social dilemmas every young person goes through.
Be Your Child’s Cheerleader
As I embark on this school journey with my own children, I realize I want to be that parent, too. The one in the crowd with a paper plate sign held up by a paint stick. The one who starts the “We. Are. Proud of You! We. Are. Proud of You!” cheer after a tough loss. The one who found a community of friends in the other parents who all simply wanted the best for his or her child.
I want to be that parent because, regardless of what my child decides to do through their journey in school, their happiness is bigger than a tournament, larger than the bad call, and more paramount than the championship. It is about their life, and my job is support them through all of it.
I realized why my parents were my biggest cheerleaders when I was younger. It was just their way to prepare me for the hard stuff now that I’m an adult. A way to help me navigate the world and those in it. It wasn’t their thoughts about every detail of those activities that I remember, it was their unconditional support and (at times embarrassing) coordinated cadences they would shout with a slow clap and bleacher foot stomp.
“Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by. Glory days, in a the wink of a young girl’s eyes.” -Bruce Springsteen
As a parent, our job is to not let the good and glory slip out of those oh-so-precious days. Our job is to watch, encourage, listen, support, and love our children so that we find ourselves, at the age of 32, realizing we are becoming that same great parent we were lucky to have during our childhood.