It still blows your father’s mind how I could’ve gone to Penn State, gone to all of those football games, and still not know a damn thing about football. I explain to him how I tried learning the game and its complex strategies dozens of times but something in my brain prevents me from retaining that information. It’s like being lactose intolerant, but totally different. I have a football/daytlight-savings-time deficiency.
“You’re the worst fan,” he says, the word “worst” dripping off of him like an unidentified sticky thing he just sat on on the subway.
“I am not, Denby. I’m a good fan. I’m loyal. I’m competitive. Do I know the rules, no–” at which point he interjects, “it’s weird” while I continue to defend–“but I’m a fan in the sense that I love games and game day and everything about rivalry and the story…”
And it’s the story that brought us together Friday night over “Real Sports,” watching the story of Jim and John Harbaugh, the two brothers who find themselves as rival coaches in this Sunday’s Superbowl.
I loved hearing about their upbringing, their innate competitiveness and drive, and most of all, life growing up with their father who was also a football coach. They reflected with warm smiles about their father’s energy. How he always made them feel like everything like it was privilege to be part of this life. Apple butter between two slices of bread everyday for lunch, who’s gotta it better than us? NOBODY! In fact of everything in their lives (and this is life, so, it’s safe to assume there were a lot of things), that’s the tale they found themselves telling a reporter years down the line. That memory of driving in the car with their dad, with that energy, asking “Who’s got it better than us?” and them replying with matched enthusiasm in their very own locker room chant, “NOBODY!”
They said it was their “thing.”
…Sunday morning your dad and I were feeling ambitious and hustled and got us dressed and out the door (!), and we headed to church.
Only when we got to church, a mere ten minutes late, the parking lot was empty. I ran in to check the bulletin and it was empty; and an empty church will always feel humbling. Like you’ve entered someplace. (I remember all of those times popping into churches in the City when I was trying to get pregnant–I’m talking weird times, one, two, 2:30 in the afternoon, when no one is in a church except people who need to be there, homeless people and little old ladies on their hands and knees saying 10,000 rosaries who don’t lift their eyes–and I’d always feel small, like I was someplace, like if there was ever a chance of someone hearing me, it has to be here…) It was 10:15 a.m. and mass didn’t start till 10:30, so I got back in the car and we decided to drive around town for a few minutes to kill time.
Suddenly, “CHURCH!” you screamed Baby Boy igniting your sister to follow suit, “CHURCH!” You both started crying real tears. You both were so strangely upset to leave church, as if we were yanking you out of Disneyland.
Your father and I turned to each other shaking our heads in confusion.
“They’re obsessed with church.”
“They have to be the only two kids who are.”
“How did this happen?”
We tried to calm you guys down as we drove, promising you were going to go back.
We had to turn the energy around in the car, stop the crying, so I twisted to you from the front seat and mustered my inner Harbaugh.
“WHO’S READY TO GO BACK TO CHURCH? ARE YOU READY!” And Baby Girl you stopped crying and cheered, YES!
I turned to you, Baby Boy. “WHAT ABOUT YOU? ARE YOU READY TO GO TO CHURCH?”
“MAMA?” asked Baby Girl.
“YES! MAMA IS READY TO GO TO CHURCH!”
“DADA?” Baby Boy you chimed in.
“YES!,” I took the liberty of answering, “DADA IS READY TO GO TO CHURCH! I’M READY TO GO TO CHURCH! YOU’RE READY TO GO TO CHURCH! WE’RE ALL GOING TO CHURCH!” I clapped my hands and rubbed them together heatedly, “WHO’S BETTER THAN US?? NOBODYYYYYY!!”
Am I a Harbaugh, no. But as I parent I can relate to the 10,000 little locker room pump ups of the day. WHO’S READY FOR LUNCH?! ARE YOU READY TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH? Especially lately with the emphasis on sleeping, COME ON, WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP OF OUR BEDTIME ROUTINE? LET’S TURN OFF THE LIGHTS, LET’S GET INTO OUR BEDS, LET’S STAY THERE, WE CAN DO IT, YES! AWESOME! GET INTO YOUR BED! STAY THERE! AWESOME! YOU GOT THIS! WHOO…
I wonder what our family “thing” will come to be?
Till then, game on.