Suited Up

Pee Wee football. It's cute. But even cuter that they stopped to do the nae nae. Dance or tackle?

“Wait! That’s Rodney!?”

When I was a little Doc, my dad and I watched college ball together. The Lions weren’t much to look at so, likely out of his self-preservation, we watched Big Ten football.

I didn’t pay any attention to the NFL until after college. I only started watching because I casually knew someone who kicked for the Giants. So I became a Giants fan. It was a very fruitful relationship–the era of The Big Tuna and some rings.

The Big Guy didn’t play football until high school. The program was huge–80 or 90 boys would suit up for varsity on Saturdays. Pretty much every one of those boys thought they had a chance to play in the NFL. Especially as their school was nationally ranked, again. (I never got what that meant. Like ranked by who? What criteria? Who sees them? Damn system is worse than NCAA coaches poll. /rant)

There were probably 150 boys in the football program every year across freshman, JV and varsity. A bunch, well more than a handful, were recruited for Division I schools. Some started, many did not.

Most of the boys on that big high school team didn’t were never played a down in a game. It’s like they fielded a big team just to intimidate smaller schools. Many starters played both offense and defense. The Big Guy played on the scout team. Those are the boys who imitate the other guys during practice. Except you weren’t really allowed to hit the starters. And, you kept waiting for a coach to notice you. They didn’t.

The Big Guy would talk about how the first string would hit. How some were hesitant. How some were soft. The top ranked high school player in the country played with him. He said he never rang his bell. The kid who ended up playing for Harvard? That guy could hit. Or so I was told.

Sunday we saw Rodney on TV. The Big Guy ran the 4X4 relay with him. They played ball at the same time. Nobody thought that the little guy would be in the NFL. Eyes were set on other stars. And, yet, there he is. And the hundreds of other boys who played with him in Pop Warner, high school and college? Doing something else.

Rodney was playing for the other team, but I still kind of was rooting for him. You know you have passed into another stage in life when you see a big-contract NFL safety on TV and you just want to pinch his cheek. So I pinched the Big Guy’s sweet bearded cheek.

Enchanté

Medalist in the 100m backstroke, Fu Yuanhui (China) Kylie Masse (CAN), gold medalist Katinka Hosszú (Hungary) and (USA) Kathleen Baker.

You win a gold medal at the Olympics, you feel joy. You stand at the podium with any medal around your neck, there is joy. For many athletes, finishing their event brings joy. They are achieving long-standing goals. They are competing on an elite stage.

There is the inevitable local news coverage after an event. Athletes–especially athletes from big national news markets–are regularly prepped with words of wisdom and platitudes. To say the right things, thank the right people, to be poised and humble, and to certainly hold your hand in the correct position when your country’s national anthem rings out.

The strongest expressions of joy you see is a fist pump or an air box. You see beaming ear to ear grins. You see teammates gripping each other in bear hugs. You see overwhelming tears of gratitude, relief and, perhaps, joy. Once you saw someone take off her jersey and fall to her knees. That was an unusual, unscripted and primal display of joy. It was the exception that proved the rule. Pump, grin, hug or cry. Those are the acceptable norms.

And then you see the pure and unabashed joy of Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui. She is most definitely having a good time. It’s as if she was never given the advice to “act like you’ve been there before.” She’s not acting, she is being.

She was blatantly amazed and pleased by her bronze medal swim. She learned of her time from the interviewer and brought her hand to her wide with surprise mouth. She as much as said, “I swam that fast?!”

She hops up and down like a kid on Christmas morning, all the time. It’s like she’s acting out. Acting out her very huge feelings of glee and the soaring of her heart. At least for this Olympics, she’s not willing to tamp down any of her feelings of wonder and delight.

I could watch her most natural joie de vivre during every Olympic break. She loves being there, and she loves sharing that in the most obvious ways. You don’t need to interpret her. Why hold back, she asks us all? Don’t act like you’ve been there, act like you’ll never be back.

Damn, I love this woman.

The Result of a Fundamental Disagreement

Nobody loves your kid like you do.

No. Bod. Dee. So

  • Don’t expect people to want to kiss their snot encased visage. You might be able to look beyond it. Others see green–literally. Don’t put your kid’s face expectantly in mine.
  • Don’t be angry when someone begs off from listening to your child play their musical instrument. Even if they are objectively good (which isn’t that likely) your guests may not want their conviviality interrupted. Even if it is Mozart that is being attempted played. Even at your house. Unless you invited us to a recital, and we had the chance to beg off in advance. No fair bundling your concert with a traditional family get-together, unless you don’t care if we aren’t paying attention and downing shots in the other room.
  • Multiply the negativity above by about one-thousand if the sharing entails a video and people are asked to stop everything, shush, and watch. Shush!
  • An exception is if you are passing around your iPhone with a < 30 second video of something that is funny or is an at-the-buzzer game winning 3-point shot. But only twenty-nine seconds or less. Get to the punchline. Don’t say, “Oh wait, you gotta see this, too.”
  • You want to bring your extraordinarily precocious and mature child you to that adults only event? Don’t ask if it’s okay to bring her or him if “No” will piss you off. That’s not really a choice. You don’t get credit for asking if all you will accept is validation of your parental desire.
  • Movies, let’s go there. Unless it’s a kids’ movie, get a damn babysitter. Their stage whispered cute comments are not what I paid for. Also, they’re only cute to you. See first line in this post.
  • At a sporting event, you bring your children. That’s cool. Other people are not as aware of your kids and their needs as you are. This is especially true in crowds. Your kids are short. They are unusual features of a crowd. They are frequently not seen. I’m not saying stay home, I’m just saying it is what it is. You have to be careful for them, not the strangers. It’s on you if they are jostled or hear curse words. These people left their kids for a reason. They’re off duty.

Let me be clear. I really like your kids. I will make goo-goo faces at them on the subway just to elicit a toothless grin. The drunken old man walk of a toddler really tickles me. I like to sit next to the parent on the plane with the screaming kid to reassure them that not everyone hates them at that moment. Been there.

I watch and like your posts with your adorbs kids on Facebook all the time. I even share some of them. And, it is a known, that I am bonkers for my kids.

But, bottom line, nobody loves your kids like you do.* You shouldn’t be disappointed, mad or rage-quit because of this true fact.

* [Except maybe grandparents. Okay, got me there. This post also applies to them.]