A Ferris Bueller Kind of Day

My husband likes to promise prizes to those who get good grades. Three trimesters of straight As, you get to do something really special.

Falling behind on prizes with our now 8th grader, who likes a challenge, the two traveled this weekend to the first regular season Falcons’ game at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.

What’s a Denver boy doing being a Falcons fan, you ask. Who knows?

But it’s been forever, and he even produces a Falcons Youtube channel. Husband and son both came home thrilled by the experience.

Passes for on-the-field pre-game warm-ups. An invitation from a good friend to the owners’ box. The photos show our son standing, the field below, even though he describes the cushy leather chairs with the amazing view. “I was too nervous to sit.”

Photos of the stadium. Arthur Blank talking to Roger Goodell. My son with Takeo Spikes, two-time Pro Bowler. Close-up video of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, and the tight ends who they described as 6’10” and HUGE!

“It was a Ferris Bueller kind of day,” said my husband. “We’ll remember it forever.”

“You need to get straight As,” said the 8th grader to his older brother, a Packers fan who tried hard not to be disappointed that the Falcons won. “You have to go to Lambeau. If you have a hundredth of the good time I had, it will be amazing.”

Then he added, “…and if you go, I’ll use my next three trimesters of As to go with you. How cool would that be?!”

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Dinner with Teenagers

When you first have children, you look at them and think how absolutely beautiful they are. You want to hold them, smell them, make them laugh. But as they grow into teenagers, you start to see who they might become with their own set of passions and beliefs. And you see the day when you will learn from them.

They are suddenly interesting. Sometimes more interesting than your colleagues or friends because they are willing to talk about anything, pushing the envelope on your thinking without being afraid that they might offend you. Wondering about things you might not have thought to wonder about. Not knowing any better than to ask the questions you’re not supposed to ask “in good company.”

“Can I try a sip of that?”

Tonight, sitting around the fire pit, the conversation with our thirteen year old morphed from what happened at school today to whether a college education is important and if there is a difference is between Stanford or Harvard or Princeton and a school no one’s heard of. We discussed the education of the last few generations in our families. Left the old country before high school was done and worked as a bus driver. First to go to college. Focused on a premiere college because that was your guarantee of a better life. And now here we are, calling college an expensive IQ test and almost expecting it to implode before our children’s children think about applying.

A week or two ago, we talked about both sides of the abortion issue. Mom and dad, do you guys agree on this one? The black, white and gray of a complex, emotional issue.

And for the last two weeks, our fourteen year old lectured us at dinner on the complex and resilient history of Germany. We helped him strategize about how to win WWII in his-school assigned role as the leader of the evil Axis. How did you get Germany?

Then when we are tired of academic banter, the teens catch their breath, readying themselves for the next argument about the NFL Draft, because a night doesn’t go by in April without analyzing every move made by our favorite Packers, Falcons, Broncos and Chiefs this year and for the last ten years.

Because that’s fun at dinner too.

The Hour Added To Date Nights

Every once in a while, our 8th grader will say, “You should go on a date night!”

So, you might think the boys actually like it when we leave. Freedom. Kraft Mac-n-cheese. Video games. But if it’s past 9:00, we get a text from the 7th grader, as if on cue. “When are you coming home?”

And no matter what time we return, they are all up, exploding with something to tell us, show us, read to us. And so 9:00 becomes 10:00. Or later.

When they were little, my favorite thing about date nights were that the babysitter had the kids asleep when we got home. I could tiptoe into their dimly lit rooms, kiss their warm foreheads goodnight, take a long look at their sweet faces, and go to bed. Five minutes from date to sleep. Tops. Now, I have to admit, I enjoy their need to share, as if we have been gone forever, and sleep will not come until they do.

Last night, we left for the theater at 6:00 and walked back in the house at 9:00. Perfect bedtime hour, but…

“Mom, do you want to see my Falcons’ Season in Review Youtube video? I’m not done yet, but…” So I watched ten minutes of Julio Jones beating his opponents in long touchdown runs to music.

“I’m impressed.”

“Did you see the clips with that weird reflection? I’m going to redo those. And the dark one?” Sigh, “I was hoping to get more done tonight.”

“Bedtime.”

“Mom, I started a new comic strip. Want to see it?” The third grader creates beautifully detailed illustrations, but his comic strip spelling requires pre-9:00 translation skills.

“Love it!”

He gives me a big hug. “I’m just gonna…”

“Nope. Bedtime.”

“Will you come say goodnight?”

And then the 8th grader sidles up to me, talking in a low, secretive whisper as if something is wrong. But… “You know how we’re not allowed to bring phones or iPads on the class trip? Well, I really want to finish The Book Thief. So I was thinking I could buy an iPod Shuffle.”

He spent his three hours of freedom coming up with the best way to get me to say yes to a new technology purchase. Not happening. “We have a copy of the book. You can bring that.”.

“The thing is, I don’t like to read books. They’re so… I don’t know… physical.”

“Go to bed.”

And that’s how a quick date night keeps everyone up too late.

 

Sports Memories

My Packers fan asked me the other day what football games I remember besides last year’s Bronco Super Bowl win. That doesn’t count, he said, because you were there. I realized that very few of my sports memories are actual plays, and I do not have a single stat in my brain.

But I remember…

…the first time my parents let me stay up late to watch a big game. The Bullets won the Championships. And as they celebrated, Queen’s “We are the Champions” played, and I was so happy and moved by the emotion of the win and the song that I cried.

…making a touchdown on the 7th grade camping trip.

…screaming until my voice gave out every time my sister swam in a race.

…feeling my heart break for Georgetown’s Fred Brown when he passed the ball to UNC’s James Worthy in a mistake that allowed Carolina to win the 1982 championship game.

…accidently smacking an opponent in the face with my lacrosse stick as I turned around to say something to our goalie when the ball was at the other end of the field.

…decorating the inside of my locker with newspaper clippings of John Riggins, Dexter Manley, Art Monk, and Darrell Green, and getting to miss school to go to the Super Bowl parade when the Redskins won.

…watching as one of the New York guys in my sophomore dorm ran through the halls banging on doors to celebrate the Mets’ World Series win in 1986.

…my husband doing the most funny Village People YMCA you’ve ever seen at a baseball game, so funny I do not even remember what game or which team. But I can still see his grin.

…being at the 2007 World Series cheering for the Rockies with my two week old son.

Since that day, my sports memories mostly come from watching my kids watch games. So I will remember my passionate Packers fan donning one of his brother’s many Falcons jerseys for the Super Bowl game last night, but showing me his Packers jersey and his loyalty underneath.

I have already forgotten the plays in the playoff game two weeks ago when the Falcons beat the Packers, but I will remember the boys’ “truce” for the game and their surprising sportsmanship throughout.

And now, the only thing I will remember about Super Bowl 51 is my Falcons fan lying on his bedroom floor crying, “Why? Why? Why?”

The Courage to be a Fan

Everywhere we went last week, people asked my son if he was excited about the game. On the street, on the ski slopes, in the reception area at school, and everywhere he wears his Packers sweatshirt (which is everywhere), strangers called out to him, “Go Packs!”

Then today, he sat next to his brother, an avid Falcons fan, and watched his team get crushed in the playoffs.

He was quiet, but he let his brother celebrate. And I realized, watching him be a good sport, what courage it takes to be a fan. As a fan, he has worn his heart on his sleeve. He has made himself vulnerable to loss. He has shouted out to the world, “I stand with them!”

Now, he must steel himself for school. The pats on the back. The “sorry, dude.” Or “nice sweatshirt.” Or “what in the world happened to your team?”

But if he had not had the courage to be a fan, then he would not have felt the joy of this season’s victories. The thrill of Aaron Rodger’s Hail Mary passes, the wonderful feeling that people know you and what you care about. And the respect you have earned because you are willing to show that you care, to cheer big wins, mourn today’s loss, and wait patiently, optimistically for next year.

A Youtuber in the Family

Our twelve year old has a Youtube channel reporting on the Atlanta Falcons, his favorite football team. He calls it Falcons Time. He also posts all of his basketball trick shots and his water bottle flipping records.

He reports frequently on the number of total followers and views, and compares his to the 50 per minute who sign up for Dude Perfect, who market themselves as five best friends and a Panda. If you have a preteen boy, you’ve probably heard of them.

The wild thing is that there are eight people following my son from Malaysia. Three from Sweden. “Isn’t that weird?!” he grins.

A little guy’s taste of fame.

 

What is Old is New Again

Remember those old photos of families sitting around a radio listening to world news? Boys, now grandfathers and great grandfathers, waiting to hear the score of the Yankees game or the next episode of Gunsmoke, imagining the scenes in their heads?

Technology has brought us so far!

Or has it?

Today, I walked past my sons huddled around the laptop on my desk watching the numbers change in the Falcons-Texans game, because it’s not being televised.

“It’s a touchdown!” Cheering erupted when the Falcons’ 7 changed to 13.

…Not even a sound from the screen.