Conversations over Coffee

Conversations with Colour

Even if I were to sit here and write for hours, I could never capture the rite of passage a new baby goes through when they are born into the code of AFL, as perfectly as does Bruce Dawe in his poem Life Cycle (for Big Jim Phelan). When our two boys were born, applications for their very own Western Bulldogs membership went out on the same day as their birth certificate application.

Football isn’t exactly a passion in our family, but it is a tradition. A tradition you don’t mess with. We fly the red, white and blue flag and have done so for years. Actually every single member of my family flies that flag. Even new partners we bring into the family fly our colours. When new little babies are born into the family there is no choice, we wrap them up tight in their little red, white and blue hats and scarves. Being a Western Bulldog supporter is not a choice, it is in our blood.

So you can just imagine what happened when AJ turned around earlier this year and said that he wanted to trade his red, white and blue – for yellow and brown. He wanted to support Hawthorn. All of a sudden conversations were being held about a little seven year old boy strung together with the words ‘traitor’ and ‘loyalty’ and ‘this is so wrong.’ I had to take a step back and catch my breath.

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Here was my son, who up until this moment in life, was encouraged to explore life with abandon, dream every dream and believe that everything is possible. Except the instant he wanted to explore the idea of supporting another AFL team, we flipped all those rules on their head and dismissed them with an infuriated ‘you can’t!’

Hubby was head strong. His colours were not wavering and neither would the colours of his son. My mother took AJ’s side and offered the softness he needed to not completely crumble under all the family pressure. I took a while to find my ground. Perhaps not so much because AJ wanted to support another team, but more so as it was a glimpse into what life had in store for us. A headstrong son who will not always follow the path we think is best for him.

We found a middle ground. It took a trip to Ethiad Stadium to watch the VFL grand final of Western Bulldogs against Hawthorn to find that middle ground. AJ would support the Hawks as his second team. Yet, if the two teams ever came up against each other, he would support our beloved Dogs.

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Sometimes I wonder how many rules we do set up to define our parenting that have an escape clause. Maybe even an escape clause we don’t know exists until we are confronted by a situation we least expect. Sometimes I wonder if the colours we wrap our little bundles of joy in and the colours of the flag we give them to wave are more about us than it ever was about them. Maybe that is parenting, more about us than it ever was about them.

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The next Conversations over Coffee link will open on
Thursday November 27, 2014

Conversations with Promises ~ everyone is welcome
This will be the last #convocoffee for 2014 xx


  • I think you’re right in regards to parenting being more about us than the kids. Everything we do comes back in some way to the way we were raised and to wanting to mould our kids to fit the view of the world that we ourselves hold.

    In regards to football, I think Dave and his Dad would be pretty devo if the girls decided to support anyone other than the Panthers, but on Mum’s side everyone goes for a different team and it’s great, makes for very lively conversation and lots of good natured digging depending on who’s team is bombing out that year! My sisters and brother-in-law taught Punky to say “Doggy! Doggy! Doggy!” to annoy Dave, but it only worked once, and now, every time they get her to chant that she says “No! Go Panthers!” and then she makes the Panther growling noise. It’s the funniest, cutest thing ever!

    • That is absolutely so cute with Punky! I think parents grip tightly to the teams their children can support – because in essence we do know that these are the very few and fleeting things we feel we have control over xx

  • I am going to play Devil’s Advocate and side with your son. I think it is great he has made up his own mind about which team he prefers to be aligned to. One of the best lessons in life is to teach a child is that just because it is tradition doesn’t always mean it is the right thing to do for yourself-not follow the crowd. I come from an AFL mad family (we compete in family footy tipping each year) and while we live in WA we support 4-5 different AFL teams individually. It actually makes watching the game together more interesting. While respecting family traditions is important, I think following your heart and being true to yourself is more important.

    • You know what, I agree too! Good on him for standing up to all of us! I hope that is testament to the character he holds on to as he grows up xx

  • LydiaCLee

    I’m Red & Black (Team Bomber, not Hird) and I get the kids bomber birth certificates and every red & black thing there is, and then one day, one kid announces he likes the Swans (knife in the heart for me), time moves on and second kid doesn’t like footy (what the what??)…The young girl has little interest but will sit thru a game if she must, eating chips and getting all the free stuff to play with…I will keep trying my luck but hold little hope. Guess that’s part of them growing up – they pick what they like, and sometimes its to get a little power back at you…

    • Gosh I myself went through phases where I did and din’t like footy itself. No doubt my kids will do the same thing. Who knows, they may grow up to be avid cricket fans and not care about the AFL? xx

  • Yes, I tend to think it is more about us. We want them to make up their own minds and follow their own dreams, but on our terms to a certain degree. x

    • Oh I think early parenting is so much more about us than it is about them. In so many ways we try and be the “good parent” or give the “best childhood” and in each of those cases it is about us, with the consequence being good for our children xx

  • I’m a total disgrace as a Melbournian – born and raised here and never been to a football match! And yes, there is a point where we have to stop imposing our will as parents and starting guiding instead.

  • I went to a fat camp (weight loss retreat) at Mt Eliza a few years ago and – as a Queenslander – I had NO idea how AFL-mad Victorians were until then. The amount of coverage the sport got (not just in the sports section) but everyone having conversations about players as if they knew them etc… It was a huge eye opener for me!

    • We are a little mad, sometimes I really enjoy the quiet that settles in this state from September to February xx

  • Great post again Josefa and you always make me think and I think you’re right. We hold these ideals for our kids but is it what they want or what we want because it’s what we know/want? Parenting is a mixed bag of learning. I could apply your question to myself with designing the girls bedrooms. Just because I like an interior or certain colours doesn’t mean they will. We just have to listen to our kids and if they choose something we wouldn’t pick, ask ourselves does it matter in the real scheme of things? As long as they are happy and they have the freedom to practice making decisions and changing their mind then what I think should be put on the back burner and of course this applies to choices that aren’t detrimental to their health and safety.

    • I think you raise a great point Bec – practice making decisions! It is something we overlook and something we think is completely our job as parents. But it is a vital skill to learn and a very important part of growing up. It is almost like we flick the switch when they become adults and just expect to them to make good decisions – without the training xx

  • Interesting thoughts – funny enough we only have one son who is a mad Footy supporter and all of us really couldn’t be bothered by any of it!!!
    And yes if we take our own egos out of our parenting styles then life is way easier, but I am only learning that now after being a Mum for over 20 years!!!
    I think that we have so many wonderful ideas of how we are going to be as a parent, and what we would like for our little ones, but then they have their own little personalities and ideas and that makes life very interesting.
    Glad your son was able to be true to himself and that all the family was still happy 🙂

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