At the end of the post last weekend about my "Thomas the Train" room painting trials, I mentioned looking forward to the days when we re-decorate the room in Notre Dame flavors. At the time, I didn't have a clear picture of what that might look like. Today I do. My cousin Becky sent me pictures of her friend's son's room. I have included some of the photos. They are evidence of one fine parenting job. They are also the new baseline from which all visions of my boys' future rooms will grow.
What if the boys don't like Notre Dame? Not an option. I believe there are some values and interests in life you allow your children to come by naturally. Others, a parent is obligated to instill at all costs, leaving a child no room for deliberation where they stand on a particular subject. Political parties and sports rooting interests top that list.
I vividly recall spending the Saturdays of my youth listening to Ohio State football games with my dad. We'd hear Archie Griffin break a long run, the announcers screaming with excitement through the speakers of our console stereo system. As I recall, the stereo system itself was as long as a football field. My dad never specifically stated I had to cheer as passionately for the Bucks as he did, but it was too much fun to resist. However, there is no doubt discipline would have been involved if I had even considered whispering a line of the Michigan fight song.
If my dad raised me as a Buckeye fan, how is it that I now "cheer cheer for old Notre Dame?" I can trace the defection to two incidents. One, Ohio State fired Woody Hayes. Yea, I know, he punched a guy on national television. But even at that age, I think I understood where Woody was coming from. In some politically incorrect way I admired it. Woody would later say "Nobody despises to lose more than I do. That's got me into trouble over the years, but it also made a man of mediocre ability into a pretty good coach." I didn't abandon Ohio State out of protest, but in the coming years she just didn't look the same without Woody.
A couple of years later, my high school football team got a new coach. His name was John Rockne, the grandson of the legendary Notre Dame Coach Knute Rockne. He never led us where Knute led the Irish, but it never diminished the mystique that went with his last name. I don't recall him ever talking much about his grandfather or Notre Dame. I know he never told us to win one for the gipper. I wish my passion for the Irish and their history was as strong then as it is now, I would have asked a lot more questions.
Those two events occurred within a couple years of my departure for college; the day when parents can only hope the values and interests they have both mandated and allowed to develop naturally in their children result in positive outcomes. My interest in Ohio State got left behind; stored with many other memories of my youth. But take consolation mom and dad, many of the other mandated values have come along for the ride. I pray those values will always be reflected in Elliott and Ian, along with a prayer I'll never hear them say "Go Bucks".