Actions Speak Louder


We delivered my daughter to the front entrance of the new Leetonia High School a few minutes late. A dark mood had settled around Mark and me after we hustled our already harried girl to get ready to take part in the First Mahoning Valley junior cheerleading competition. She’d been crying. I hoped that wouldn’t affect her voice, which has always carried easily to the back pews of our church since she was a toddler.

Her hair wouldn’t do what she wanted (I wasn’t sure she knew what she wanted – just not what she had). She couldn’t find her gear bag with her pom-poms because it was in a logical spot and not in the usual jumble that pervades her room (she takes after her mother). She hunted for her white sneakers (she wasn’t supposed to wear the shoes she cheers in until she got in the gym because of their new floor). I grabbed the dirty sneakers when they finally appeared, scrubbing them at the last minute, thinking that even if it made us later, I would not let her compete in them looking as the did.

I bit my tongue, knowing if Mark heard me complaining he would start a speech about her being old enough to clean her own shoes. I imagined him saying in a loud, impatient voice that the reason she isn’t responsible is that I do too much for her and she’s so used to it that she’s spoiled. The image struck vividly because I have heard it so many times before. He’s right, but when I’m told by his loud, impatient voice, I don’t take it to heart.

I wondered why I expect Mark to accept the things I tell him in my loud, impatient voice when I know that’s clearly not the way to get through to anyone. I remembered how my grandmother, a teacher, had always been revered for her discipline in her classes. She seldom raised her voice. If anything, she lowered it when she was upset. She spoke in a slow, even tone that quickly told anyone she meant business. Why couldn’t we do that instead of letting our tempers get the best of us?

Feeling frazzled with frustration, I walked into the school behind Kathie and my heart rate took another brief jump as the great, stuffed, brown bear, Leetonia’s mascot, surprised me. Others were still arriving, we weren’t that late. Kathie’s adviser is always on top of things with her cheerleaders, and allowed plenty of time. The familiar group of parents who always rally for our kids’ events looked equally anxious to take a little breathing space before we found our seats on the backless bleachers for what one dad predicted could be “a long afternoon.”

Considering this was the first time for this kind of event in our area, things went smoothly. Dozens of kicking kids in short, swingy skirts, coordinated chants with a few cartwheels, acrobatic flips, and other rah-rah-revealers for a wonderful show. (Rah-rah’s are one name for color coordinated spandex underpants.) The nearly standing-room-only crowd seemed small compared to the amount of commitment, hard work, and energy that filled the gym that day. Happy I wasn’t a judge, I wiggled my shoulders, tapped my toes and wished I could forget myself like the little girl standing in front of me dancing to the rock and roll.

Every squad performed well. Kathie’s group was part of the large number who weren’t chosen as one of two winners in each age group. They tested the new gym roof by all cheering at once while ribbons were awarded – loud, but fun.

Next time I want Mark to listen to me, I might put on Kathie’s cheerleading uniform. I can get loud, but I’ll shake my rah-rah’s and wear a smile.

Cookbook Will Celebrate 90th Anniversary

Following a theme of 90 Years of Farm and Dairy Traditions, a new cookbook is being planned for 2004. Send in your recipes now. Share recipes with emphasis on anything you have clipped from Farm and Dairy over the years that has become a standard for you or your family. We would also like to include crockpot recipes and canning and freezing specialties.

Mail your recipes to: Cookbook, Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.



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