This past weekend we traveled to watch our son graduate from the University of Alabama. As our plane barreled down the runway for take-off so too did my mind. Where has the time gone? How am I old enough to have a child who is about to graduate college? When did that little boy getting on the big yellow school bus become a young man? Where will his diploma lead him? What is next for his life? STOP! Get hold of yourself Allison, have you forgotten he’s a football kid.
Football Kid: noun. A child whose father’s football coaching career often means relocating the family many, many times.
Yes, football kids may struggle when you ask them where “home” is, but their foundation is rock solid. As a football mom you may think me jaded, but I am steadfast in knowing football kids adapt to new environments, comfortably carry on conversations with complete strangers, are incredibly friendly, uniquely empathetic, have an innate ability to maneuver any new city with ease, and usually eager to try new activities and cuisine. They fully understand the importance of a good handshake, eye contact, a handwritten note and sportsmanship. They can work a room, read people, disregard naysayers, take the high road and see the glass half full. Skills learned before they took their first step.
When it comes to friendships they are careful to find a person who is genuine and can be trusted to stand by their side when there is more losing than winning. Those friendships are respected, treasured and often survive no matter how far away the next move takes them.
Football kids take their cue from their parents, understanding you are either the “welcomer” or “welcomee”. Hence, the bond amongst football kids and their families is a tight one. They don’t think twice when the name on their emergency form is another football kid’s mom who they hardly know, but innately trust. They know what it’s like to step onto a school bus full of kids who’ve known each other all their life or to eat alone in the lunchroom. “I know what you’re going though; I’ll be your friend and I’ve got your back”, should be their creed.
So for us this trip is sort of a twofer; we get to see our son graduate and “go back home!”. As many football families do, when moving from job to job, often times a kid is left behind. It’s not that we forgot to pack ‘em up, it’s just they've chosen to stay back and begin their own life right there. In our case, we moved to Philadelphia and our son stayed for college, which was far from a comfortable scenario for us. Knowing we had football family and true friends in town made it so I could close my eyes at night and sleep, sort of.
As a football family mom I’ve always felt rather guilty about moving our kids so much. Worried they would never feel they had a childhood “home.” Sad they wouldn’t have a neighborhood of people who could share tales about watching them grow up. But I have learned when football people and those trusted friends do gather back up after many years; wives hug, husbands share tales, years melt away and “kids” reminisce about their childhood days. Our kids may not have one neighborhood who watched them grow up, they are blessed with many.
So maybe there is no reason for me to panic after all. We‘ve given him the childhood, support and tools to confidently walk across that stage and receive his diploma. He will win some, he may lose some and he may have to move on some- but he has a slew of people all over the place cheering him on! You’ve got this Jake!
Moral: Distance only strengthens true friendships.
with proud love,
A little thing you should know: Like a fox, football people have a keen sense. We can walk into a crowded room and quickly sniff out a weasel or locate the good soul. Once we find a true person with a genuine kind heart who loves us for who we are and not our football ticket hookup, those are the ones that always have a home in our heart.