Posted by: Michelle Mitton | June 23, 2008

Snips and Snails and Football Tales

DavidI have two younger brothers and there is enough age distance between us that, watching from afar as they grew up, I knew raising boys wasn’t for me. Midnight fishing trips, karate sparring in the kitchen, “made you look,” and other manliness just confused me and I said for years that I never wanted to have boys. Just daughters if you please.

And then I found out that Spencer was coming. The day the doctor told me we’d be adding a son to our home I went out and bought the cutest little blue jumpsuit and a clip-on basketball hoop for his crib and I’ve been thrilled ever since.

I guess there’s a difference between having brothers and having sons.

If I didn’t have Spencer and David I would have missed out on the deepest conversations I’ve ever had: “Mom would you rather be eaten by a giant squid or a great white shark?” and would have never known the fascination of teaching little boys full of recklessness marbled with affection.

But as the boys grow I find them wading–no make that running and schlopping–into foreign territory. The latest example, professional sports, are completely not my thing but suddenly I have two little rabid sports fans in the house that only want to talk football (Spencer) and football plus baseball (David).

I haven’t thought about football since my college days–who knew the L.A. Rams are now out to pasture in some other city? Or that there are Titans in Tennessee? What happened to the Oilers? (Apparently their well dried up). Are the Cowboys still in Dallas? Surely they haven’t gone anywhere in the past twenty years? I think I still don’t like them probably.

And whenever I’m alone with the boys–usually in the car where I can’t flee to my happy place–they want to talk shop.

“Mom who’s your favorite baseball player?” David asked the other day.

Now I actually do like baseball–kind of in the same way that I like spaghetti or fresh sheets on my bed–it’s a pleasant thing to go to a game in the summer sun, eating peanuts and hearing that crack of the bat and it I can appreciate the difficulty of hitting a baseball. But do I know baseball? Heck no. I was too ashamed to admit the only player I remembered ever kind of liking was Mark Grace and I recalled that was only because he was easy on the eyes–who knew what position he’d played? I was pretty sure it was for one of the Chicago teams but I couldn’t let my son down so I said, “Randy Johnson?” That’s a name I’d remembered hearing around . . . somewhere . . . I thought maybe he played for Seattle.

“Yea,” David said with approval, “he’s good. He’s 6’9″ and . . . ” I forget the rest. It was a lot of numbers.

“So what’s your favorite football team?” Spencer interrupted

“The 49rs?” (Why did all my answers seem to be phrased in the form of a question?) “Yea, definitely the 49rs. I like Joe Montana.”

Mom! Joe Montana doesn’t play for the 49rs. Not like for a hundred years!”

“Oh. Well then how about Steve Young? He still plays for them doesn’t he?”

“Nope.” And I felt their disgust growing. Suddenly I realized that it was all a test–a test to see if I was hip to it. Whatever “it” was. It was my chance to prove that I actually had a brain and could demonstrate the proper amount of knowledge and interest in the only topic of conversation they considered worthy. Suddenly I began to sweat because there was no way I’d pass and I doubted I could fake my way through like I could with Grace’s algebra homework.

Sigh. “Well I’ll just stick with the 49rs then and leave it at that–are they still in San Francisco?”

“MOM!”

So I’m learning and I’m having a great time talking with my boys as they teach me about their favorite things. And actually I’m doing pretty well. Here’s a compilation of my new knowledge that you’re free to use for any fans you might have in the house:

  • Randy Moss is cool and he plays for the Patriots–that’s a team that’s supposed to be pretty good. More or less.
  • Tom Brady is cooler. He also plays for New England. I know he’s quite the ladies man though I didn’t learn that from the boys but from the checkout stand tabloids.
  • Ladanian Tomlinson is an actual name of an actual man. I haven’t yet learned what team he’s on and it took me forever to figure out what they were saying when they said his name–their excitement tends to slur words together. Thank goodness for Google.
  • Plaxico Buress is another actual name. Though this one is probably trademarked so that he makes royalties every time someone utters it.
  • Someone actually named a child Deuce McCallister. And apparently when Spencer says Deuce and I say Dooce we’re not talking about the same person.
  • Reggie Bush is the only Bush my boys know and is the “wickedest” player in the NFL (that’s a good thing) who can run “crazy fast” (also to be encouraged) but he’d do better if he had a wonky name to go with his skills like his aforementioned buddies.

SpencerI’ve tried to keep up with this flood of cultural knowledge pouring into my brain because it’s important to the boys and it seems to be a good way to keep those communication lines well trafficked. It’s all sports all the time with them and my biggest worry is that I’ll say something that reveals my ignorance of the subject. Er . . . well . . . the breadth of my ignorance let’s say. I think they’ve figured that first part out.

But they’re patiently teaching me and pointing out all the best players and their stats and calling to me to come look at the rookie card they just traded for–every once in a while I can chime in with my own opinions and questions and tag along in the conversation.

It tugs at my heart to see my boys so excited to share their favorite baseball card with me or tell me all about the Honus Wagner or Satchel Paige biography they’re reading or ask me if I agree that the Chargers are the greatest football team ever. I may be an idiot when it comes to the games but it makes me feel so loved to know that when they have something exciting to share the first person they want to share it with . . . is me.

I guess you’d say I’m their first round draft choice and I love it.

***

As a side note–you’ll notice the sponsor link below and I ought to mention that I really outdid myself with this one. You see Mr. Druckman sells his sports photos on his site and I showed it to the boys, asking which pictures they liked best. It took them an hour and a half to decide which two photos were their favorites, debating the merits of each player and arguing which play was better. They drooled over shots of Brett Favre and Hideki Matsui and mourned that there was none of John Beck (aka Captain Universe around here) and when I surprised them with the pictures later that week you should have seen the end zone dance they did in the kitchen, spiking grapefruits left and right. I pretty much became Greatest Mom EVER just like that. They’ve already picked out a place on their bedroom wall for the framed prints and bragged to their friends about how their mom was the coolest mom in the history of the planet. You just can’t can’t buy PR like that anymore folks. Maybe they’ll remember that moment the next time I get on their case to take out the trash.

Oh how I love my boys!

Sponsored by Gold Medal Impressions–Limited edition sports photographs by Dick Druckman.

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