As a father, it's hard to watch the Super Bowl these days without realizing that all of the over-sized creatures participating in this larger-than-life game started as little boys. Many of them probably tossing a ball around the living room like Ian and Elliott and I were doing last night. A few of them probably knocked keepsakes off the mantle just like we did - I assure you victims of bad bounces, not poorly thrown balls or slippery hands. And they were likely the recipients of an evil yet understanding eye of a mama sitting close by.
A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a co-worker who is raising a teenage son. She was telling me how they have been trying to get their son to be more aggressive on the basketball court. She wondered out loud if her being a nurturing and possibly over protective mother might have led her son to have to dig deeper to find his "attack" mode when playing sports. She's a wonderful mother, and I assured her there are many parents stuck with the unenviable challenge of getting their kids out of attack mode.
It also got me to thinking and observing just how much that "aggressive ultra competitive" mode is fostered by brotherhood. Especially brothers that are less than two years apart in age.
I have recently witnessed Ian and Elliott:
Competition is indeed alive and well in our house. And with it plenty of aggression. Sometimes a bit too much:
To the end of the road and back dude, loser loses their vehicle.
Last weekend we had to take two vehicles to church. Ian rode with Katie, and Elliott was my co-pilot. We weren't long out of the driveway when Elliott realized that Katie and Ian were in front of us, and unless something somehow changed that order, they would beat us to church. So Elliott immediately began plotting the change.
For the better part of the twenty minute drive, I felt like I was Jimmy Johnson and I had Chad Knaus in my ear giving me strategies on when to make the pass and win the NASCAR championship. We HAD to beat them to church. Now, it did give me plenty of opportunity to educate Elliott on some simple driving concepts, like why you can't pass with the presence of double yellow lines, or just how many points it takes to lose a driver's license, or what happens to the driver when they lose it. I am thankful he didn't ask if I knew of anyone who had ever lost their driver's license. That would not have provided blog friendly material.
"Daddy, do people who lose their driver's licences go to jail?"
We found our opportunity to make our "move" shortly before entering the church driveway. The Chevy truck pulled out and zipped past the Ford Escape and we won, easily. It was all done according to the law and safely. But somehow, when we were in the church parking lot and Elliott was jumping up and down celebrating and chanting about the secret move we had made to secure the victory, I had to question the wisdom of the move. Something just didn't feel right about turning the church parking lot into victory lane. I stopped him before he could shower me with his juice cup.
My shot at redemption came Wednesday night, my opportunity to be a better example. It was coincidentally on the way home from church. Once again we were in separate vehicles (trust me, we are not opposed to driving to church as an intact family). Katie and Ian once again got a head start. A much bigger head start because Elliott and I had to stop for gas. Once finished with the pit stop, Elliott immediately began plotting the move. I informed him that mama and Ian were too far ahead and there was no way to safely catch them. I told him that was a good thing, because they'll win and get to feel good about it. It was their turn to win. There was silence like he understood and agreed. I was happy.
"Daddy," he said, after some time.
"But if they get their turn to win and be happy, that means I won't be happy."
OK, there is some work left to do.
So who is going to win the Super Bowl. Well, one of the first NFL games the boy in me remembers watching with my dad is the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on my beloved Raiders in the 1972 playoffs. The Raiders had the game in hand and were ready to face a Miami Dolphins team that would go on to win the Super Bowl as the only undefeated team through the regular season and playoffs in history. But, in what NFL Films calls both the greatest and most controversial play in NFL history, the Raiders lost:
The aggressive and competitive boy in me has never forgotten that - GO PACK!!