Try to Survive Tryouts

Spring is just around the corner and with it comes the time of year I dread most ... cheerleader tryouts. And in Texas we take this very seriously, what with recent cheerleader mama assassination attempts and all. If you've never experienced this cheerleader-tryout rite-of-passage, then count yourself among God's elect.

In our household, my daughter lives, eats and breathes cheerleading. She cannot speak a normal sentence in a normal tone. All sentences must rhyme, must have rhythm, and must end with a jump, a kick, and a "Go Tigers!"

Last week it was her turn to say grace before dinner. Naturally, the prayer began with, "Reaaaadddyyy! Ohhh-kaaay!" and ended with a toe touch.

When she asked for the butter, she did so in perfect cadence. "Pass-the-butter, pass-pass-the-butter, yeah, pass-the-butter, pass-pass-the-butter."

I've tried to get my daughter interested in something other than cheerleading, like, say, the debate team. But when she showed up at practice in her spandex and sneakers and insisted the her debate team mates warm up with a stretches and high kicks, she was promptly high-kicked out of the room.

Of course, being the ever-vigilant, ever-cheer(leader)y type, this didn't phase her. She merely donned her mini-skirt, teased her hair, stuffed her Wonderbra, and attended the debate event with head and pom-pons held high. And she did very well, actually, if you overlooked the back-handspring she insisted on doing at the end of each round.

But even worse than the girls trying out for cheerleader, are the parents of those girls. Particularly, the mothers. Something strange seems to overtake them, transforming them from the sweet little Sunday school teacher you knew and loved, to a vicious, catty, potential assassin who would run over anyone who got in her daughter's way of being cheerleader.

One parent I know whose daughter didn't make cheerleader last year insisted that the whole thing was rigged and demanded a full investigation of the school and the tryout process. Another mother bought her daughter the exact uniform the cheerleaders wore and insisted she wear it to each game, track meet, choir event and school board meeting. The mother even had a similar uniform she wore.

Of course, this is not dissimilar to some of the fathers I've observed whose sons play Little League. I've seen fathers get into fist fights requiring the intervention of police at some of these games.

Last week when we signed our son up for this year's season, the parents were presented with a medical waiver form and a temporary restraining order. I once witnessed a mother of one kid actually crawl out of the stands, go down on the field, and kick the kid's coach in the groin after her kid was pulled out of the game. A friend of mine who was Little League commissioner in a large urban city told me that one year parents became such a problem that he banned all parents from watching the games.

As a result of all this, I've come up with a list of the top 10 things you can do instead of harassing your child's Little League coach:

10. Return the tires your children stole off the neighbor's house.

9. Put rock in shoe to have convincing limp when parking in the "handicapped" space at WalMart.

8. Inventory the major appliances on your front porch.

7. Release goats for monthly lawn maintenance.

6. Take bets to see which family member appears on this weeks' episode of America's Most Wanted.

5. Rotate your wife's flip-flops.

4. Re-bondo the family car.

3. Take grandma in for lube job.

2. Practice incorporating new swear words into "batter chatter".

1. Make yearly appointment with doctor, dentist and parole officer.

Carol Countryman is a freelance troublemaker and has plenty of spirit in Tool, Texas.

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