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.
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.
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.
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