When life was so simple that I could get worked up over things that don’t matter, I complained about the evils of putting small children in beauty pageants. I made sure everyone knew I was boycotting the televised pageants for 18-year-olds. I was very confident and uncompromising in my brilliant pre-parent years. Then, I had children. I still refused the pageant suggestions, but when I thought we were safely past the child modeling years, I was blindsided where I wasn’t expecting it. Color Guard. Flag Corps. Whatever you want to call the high school and older girls who twirls flags and wood rifles. They are the gateway drug to evil. Maybe I’m exaggerating a teeny bit. Let’s review how we got here.
Since I decided in my know everything years that students who are involved in school activities are less likely to get into trouble, I enthusiastically supported all of Sarah’s clubs and activities in middle school. The summer before her freshman year of high school, it was clear that she wanted to be in the color guard. It seemed wholesome and just the right amount of time consumption. Sure, it was expensive, but if it turned out to be her thing, it could be her way to pay for college. All of our children know that they are going to work their way through college, but it’s up to them if their job will be washing dishes or marching on the field at football games. The first hint that I didn’t know what I had agreed to with Color Guard was last year’s “no underwear” uniform. In order to avoid unsightly lines showing, the girls wore nothing under their costumes. I was less than thrilled, but spent enough years in theater to understand. Revelation number two came after the outside temperature made the underwear-less uniforms too revealing and the girls were asked to duct tape the overly perky area of their anatomy. This still bothers me. It seems dangerous to use heavy duty tape on any skin. This year the girls wore unitards under their costumes and I thought we were past the surprises. I was wrong.
“Can I be on the winter guard team?” I didn’t understand why there was a color guard team after football season ended, but Sarah loves color guard and as long as Sarah is making straight A’s, it’s hard to complain. Winter guard is a thirty minute drive to the other side of town and is a blend of flag happy girls from several different high schools. Practice is 3 – 5 times a week. The cost is ridiculous, but they kindly allow us to make several $100 payments. Mmkay. The first new revelation was that winter guard is the extreme sport version of Color Guard. Apparently, the regular season team at her high school is adjusted activity to make girls of all sizes able to participate. Before anyone gets offended, I know that all of those girls are more physically active than I am. Winter guard is dance, gymnastics and lots of falling down. Not oops I tripped, but drop flat on your face on purpose falling down. Sarah’s knees were one giant purple bruise the first few practices. Then, Sarah started making casual comments in passing. For example, as she was walking out the door she would suddenly remember, “I’m not allowed to get my haircut until after competitions end in March, but at least I don’t hafta get extensions like some of the other girls.” Blink-blink. High school students getting hair extensions? That’s kuh-ray-zee. Next came the coach’s request that she get contact lenses asap. Yesterday it was, “we’re all coloring our hair black to contrast our uniforms.” What? This is getting completely out of control. Next thing I know they’ll all be asking for implants and tattoo lip liner. This is starting to feel a lot like a beauty pageant, I rather just get them some enhance breast creams for the summer than letting them have surgeries.