Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Firecracker, Firecracker

I was always a bit of a weirdo, even as a kid.

Back in the first grade, the boys on the playground would taunt and tease the girls. Personally, I couldn't stand for it, and so I found myself being a traitor to my kind and coming to the defense of the girls. Of course, in hindsight, I'm sure the girls could have held their own just fine...but at least I felt like I was making a difference in the childhood irrational fear of cooties.

One side effect of this was that I found myself playing with the girls moreso than the boys. This also meant I had an inside scoop into a world generally off limits to the male gender. I got to see what it was girls liked to do when the boys weren't around. (Or, at least, when all the boys except me.)

It was then, in the first grade, that I learned my first cheer.

Firecracker, firecracker, boom, boom, boom!
Firecracker, firecracker, boom, boom, boom!
Boys got the muscles!
Teachers got the brains!
Girls got the sexy legs,
And we won the game!

I remember being drawn to this rather risque cheer because I got to say the word "sexy", and managed to get away with it. And I suppose it isn't the most PC of cheers. But, I was in the first grade...and this was the 70s.

So, flash forward to the present. Today, I'm actively involved in various musical groups at my church, the most recent of which is the choir for kids in fourth through sixth grade. I admit, I kind of push the kids. I take music seriously, and expect them to not only sing...but sing well. But, being an adult among kids means you risk becoming a staunchy old man. What to do, what to do?

Last weekend, we had a special Saturday rehearsal for the upcoming program, and during the break, three of the girls decided to work on a cheer of their own. And the door was opened unto me. I had my opportunity to connect to these kids in a way that showed them I'm a kid at heart. So, as they finished their cheer, I offered to show them mine.

Of course, it wasn't nearly as exciting without my pom-pons, of course. But I soon had them enthralled. Enthralled that an adult such as myself would make a complete and utter fool of himself. They laughed and giggled, and when I was all done, they wanted me to do it again.

Mission accomplished. That's all it took...one thirty-second cheer...and I'm suddenly the coolest thing since, well, whatever kids think is cool these days. Ironically, I earned their respect by acting like a weirdo.

It seems to be the same with my own kids. They may know to obey and follow our rules and even want to please us...there is something about just having some fun together that makes them want to obey and follow the rules and please me. If I'm having trouble with one of my kids, it is often a sign that I'm not spending enough "fun time" with them. And frankly, I don't spend enough fun time with them. With everything in life vying for my time, sometimes such a simple thing can become lost in the daily grind. But it is when my daughter says to me as I'm getting ready for work, "Are you staying home today?", that I realize I need to be more weirdo with my kids. I need to be embarrassing. Because, ultimately, that's what kids want. They want a father they can be embarrassed by. Because embarrassing fathers are fun.

Now...if only I could find my pom-pons...