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Shannon Bardwell: We can't all be pole-dancers


Shannon Bardwell



Michele is an amazing mother. Her techniques are novel, and I love to eavesdrop on her parenting conversations. As the primary caregiver to her teenaged girls I know it hasn''t been easy, not at all. It was after the girls were born that she went to college, got a degree and a good job to support them.  


Both of the girls are responsible and have worked since the moment they could, whether baby-sitting, house cleaning or gift wrapping on holidays. Kate, the oldest, works at a grocery store; she''s now a freshman in college.  


In high school Kate heard about the grocery store job. She rose early and interviewed before school started. The manager was so impressed he hired her on the spot. Kayla, the youngest, baby-sits. I asked about Kayla''s childcare skills. Michele said, "Oh she can do as good a job as I can." 


At work I hear Michele calling home, "Have you washed the clothes and vacuumed? No computer ''til you do." 


When Kayla lost her pricey new eyeglasses Michele said, "You weren''t careful. You can find them, or we''ll take your old ones and get new lenses but no new glasses." 


I cringed inside, they were her eyeglasses, but Michele holds firm. Lost phone? They can earn the money for another one. Everything she does is done with love and an affable attitude and then ... the infamous T-shirt. 


Kayla was excited about being in the high school Color Guard so Michele managed the funds. Then the director ordered extra T-shirts for the girls. The T-shirt said: "Color Guard is a place that you flip it, whip it and strip it in public."  


Michele hit the roof, "Kiddo, you will not be wearing that shirt! You''ll look like a pole-dancer." Then the "but Moms ... " 


"No way, Jose," said Michele. "And if you get out there and do some kind of gyrating, bump-and-grind dance I will come out there and yank you off that field in a minute. And don''t think I won''t!" 


Not for one minute did Kayla think her momma wouldn''t yank her off that field. Michele had already sent the "Daisy Mae" shorts back to the school and told them to get Kayla some longer shorts. 


Michele spent some tumultuous nights over the T-shirts. Then it seems a "concerned parent" brought the T-shirts to the attention of the principal, who was unaware of the new flag girl attire. Not only did he forbid the wearing of the T-shirt, he demanded the parents be refunded; and then he called the printer and asked how in God''s name did they print a shirt like that? 


On game night another mother leaned over to Michele, "Kayla looks really nice out there; her shorts seem a little longer." 


Michele beamed, "I know. That''s my girl!"


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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