Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm glad Mr. T runs cross country

Last night Mr. T had his first cross country practice of the season.  The assembled runners were hot and sweaty, and while the coach ran the parent meeting, the kids stood off to the side stretching, panting and drinking water.  We got the low down on the schedule for the year, team t-shirts and the philosophy of the sport.  After the meeting, the middle school runners disappeared without much fanfare or fuss.

Then Mr. T and I  took our spots in the concession stand at the middle school football game taking place on the other side of the parking lot.  The 7th graders won, Mr. T helped me sell Gatorade and hot dogs and popcorn, the 8th grade game started.

And these girls showed up.  Eighth grade girls with signs.  Signs made of glitter that said things like "GO TREVOR!  #24!"  The girls held the signs and cheered for boys who until this point in their lives have only been cheered on by parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.  These girls wore make up and struck me as so intentional  in their attentions.  Their attendance at this game did not come from sisterly interest, or from family obligation.  It was something different altogether.

Where did these girls come from?

A thunderstorm rolled through, scattering the players and crowd.  The girls showed up at a concession stand window asking us to safely store their signs.  I watched Mr. T avoid working that window, and I also noticed how these girls barely noticed Mr. T.  I have no argument with that.

The refs finally called the game and the 8th grade boys trooped past in their pads and helmets and football jerseys.  Mr. T waved to a few friends playing on the team and I noticed the girls standing alongside the spot where the players left the field, cheering and calling the players out by name as passed.

When did this girl-attention madness start?

I also noticed several boys studiously ignoring their new breed of fan--whether embarrassed or disgusted or confused by their presence I couldn't say.  The girls collected their glittery signs and somehow I feel confident they won't be standing on the sidelines of the home cross country meet next week.  I'm glad Mr. T's not playing a glamorous sport.  I'd rather he stay in a sport where his fans are cheering for him, not to be noticed by him.

Now I'm going to work on convincing Mr. B to run cross country instead of playing football next year...  A lot of moms don't want their boys playing football because they're worried about their sons getting hurt.  Pfft.  A broken bone doesn't scare me, but those girls on the sidelines?  That's another story!


  1. Some time during the last school year, Emma's grade was allowed to go over to a field that's a bit separated from the school playground, where the boys gathered to play some sport (likely football). She was excited because there were some games she thought she and friends could play there. When she got there, however, she found that all the other girls were only there to "cheer" on the sidelines. She was pretty disgusted and never bothered going again. It's funny how girls separate --one aspect of the group that becomes the "popular" girls is definitely their consuming need to be noticed, mostly for what they look like rather than for anything they've actually accomplished. I know society reinforces that, but parenting must come into it as well.

  2. It's so funny that that's what you're noticing, because here, my girls and their friends really aren't all that interested in boys. And that's just fine by me. Plenty of time for that later.

  3. I have always said, cross country is an awesome sport. In cross country, the girls aren't on the sidelines cheering on the "studs". When the boys run, yes, the girls are on the sidelines cheering, but it's only after they have run themselves while the boys have cheered the girls on. They are all just friends, enjoying the sport.
    There is definitely a separation at this age, girls who will do anything to be noticed by the cute boys, and the girls who are interested in other things. (Not that they don't notice boys, or wouldn't be flattered if some boys noticed them.)

  4. It has been pointed out to me by my daughter that some of her friends are starting to get 'really boy crazy' (her words). I know that in groups they have gone to some baseball games, but thankfully my girl likes playing sports too much to actually want to do anything but cheer on friends at their own games.

  5. I have a grand niece of sixteen whose major concern is how well her make up and her hair look and spends quite a bit of energy and time on them. She is a sweet girl and I like her, but she is too concerned with her looks and the impact they will have on boys. My own daughter played all sorts of sports when she was in high school and was good looking too. But she was not on the sidelines cheering on the studs. I am glad to say that she is now a very successful and emancipated woman.

  6. I played HS football for 3 years. I wanted to run x-country (and later became a runner, track and x-country coach of high schoolers and I STILL run and my hawt chick of a wife is going to cheer me on in the race I have Monday, but back to my story) but my dad insisted that I play football instead (all five foot 8, 121 pounds of me) and one thing was true: social interactions became a lot easier than before I played. It opened doors I did not need or want to open. Suddenly you aren't a geek. All that said, there were some great friends who also played, but mostly dumb jocks. I got injured quite badly and was in the hospital 2 weeks and missed 2 months school because of a head injury. I think that x-country is a better choice for many of us :)

  7. I don't think any of the girls hang around the boundary of the boys cricket pitches, matches can take 6-7 hours - that's just too long to bother!

  8. Haha! Something tells me with those handsome boys of yours you will be at your wits end in a few years. Better get used to it! ;)

  9. Ugh. I'm an adult woman, but I still maintain that there's nothing scarier than middle-school girls. Terrifying!

    I do agree with Kat, though - those handsome, kind boys of yours aren't going to avoid female attention forever.

  10. Yes, yes, yes--cross country and not football! In that single thought, you've summed up everything I hold dear.

    That feminine attention is, yea, well, unsettling, and I type this as a parent of a girl and a boy. I don't want either of mine playing that game.

  11. Yes, yes, yes--cross country and not football! In that single thought, you've summed up everything I hold dear.

    That feminine attention is, yea, well, unsettling, and I type this as a parent of a girl and a boy. I don't want either of mine playing that game.

  12. Bravo! As the parent of band geeks and the occasional runner, I prefer this lifestyle. I'm currently freaked out that my 17yo has a girlfriend. It's not that I'm opposed to girls (my oldest has been married for a year now to a lovely young woman who did not hang out with glittery signs) but I want so much for my kids to be kids and get their education. Girls can be a distraction.

  13. One of the reasons my youngest daughter quit cheer after only one year was because she realized that, in general, girls that cheer boys rather than playing their own sport are just really not her kind of girls--she really did like cheer for the athleticism, but thankfully it just wasn't her.

  14. Also, what's really scary is that moms encourage a lot of that behavior.

  15. I work with this age group of girls in Girl Guides. (Scouts)
    In amongst the practical skills I hear those conversations
    ...about boys, about crushes, about social activities, and gossip, and yes the borderline stalking.
    I tell parents straight up that I mentor, because that's what this age group needs, and that they will be the first people I call if I think it's necessary.

    I don't shut down those conversations or pass judgment. I do however offer them my point of view, which is the same ones I offered my own daughters.
    Amongst other things-

    -You have value as a person, and are entitled to respect, but only if your behavior shows you deserve it.
    -Success is not measured by if boys like you, but how you like yourself.
    -Girls can achieve anything they put their minds to.
    -Boys are not some foreign species, or the prize in a game. Try talking to them the way you talk to any friend.

    Deborah J
    (not anon, but I don't have a blog)


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