Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Costume Week: O-H, Oh Yeah!

You know one of the best parts of having kids? You can brainwash them into loving the same things you love!
Ok...kidding. My kids actually came hard wired with some pretty strong preferences when it comes to most things. They know what toys they want to play with, what colors they like, and what clothes they want to wear. Conversely, they know what they don't like, and no amount of me begging/using logic can change their minds.

But there are other things that they're totally open to, giving me the opportunity to help them shape their preferences (aka: make my loves, their loves). When it comes to things like states, or schools, or sports teams, they barely understand what they are, let alone having an opinion on which ones are the best. (It took us at least three years for Piper to grasp that we lived in Pennsylvania...just long enough for us to move!) So their future fan-dom is pretty much based on what we teach them.

Honestly, that's something that has made me laugh/freaked me out since becoming a parent: It's relatively easy to push your allegiances on your kids. I never thought about it much before, I just took my preferences at face value, not realizing how I came to them, or how deeply ingrained they are. I grew up in Columbus Ohio, so I was raised that (the) OSU is the best- fact, not opinion. Michigan (the school, the state, and really anything remotely mitten shaped), along with anyone who likes it, are the worst. Fact. Now that I've lived in different cites and states, I've realized a couple things:
  1. People in Columbus are crazy-passionate fans. 
  2. Most places have similar non-negotiable Things You Must Love to some level or another
Pittsburgh is a land of proud yinzers who live and die by their Pens, Buccos, and beloved Stillers. Attending the University of Cincinnati taught me (among other, more useful things) what a Bearcat is, and how to proudly recite every word to our alma mater and fight songs. And you're all well aware that Dustin bleeds midnight green (the official color of the Philadelphia Eagles, duh).

A photo posted by Courtney Bowden (@bowdenisms) on
Basically...people are raised to love what their parents love. Typically it comes from a "root for the home team" sentiment based on where you grow up, but I've often met fans of far flung teams or schools, just because it's what their mom or dad loved. The more I've thought about it, the more it's actually scared me a little. I don't want to make a crazy leap (or be a total downer), but having a little hindsight on being raised in an environment that held such strong opinions on us vs. them, gives me a least a clue about how it's possible for kids to be taught much worse things (racism, sexism, cult religion, political fanaticism...) without realizing it's wrong. Thankfully, being...say...a Cowboys fan isn't the worst thing that can happen to someone (unless you ask Dustin- who believes that's a fate worse than death), but what about when it's more than just which football team you watch on Sundays? I can unfortunately see how prejudices could be handed down, and kids can be indoctrinated into certain views without them ever realizing they had a choice to think or value something different. After all, to this day it's hard for me to wear yellow and blue together, so silly or not, things like this run pretty deep.
We joke about "future buckeyes" and "raising them right!" (though I draw the line at owning a decal of Calvin peeing on anything...) but honestly, the job of shaping a human a huge big responsibility. Yes, their eventual sports allegiances are relatively harmless (unless they end up Browns fans...that's just guaranteeing a lifetime of heartache) but it's a good example and reminder that my kids are impressionable little things, and their watching and learning from everything we do. I pray they grow up to value the faith we follow, but I don't want to force it on them. And I'd love to share common interests and passions with them, but I'd much rather them find things they authentically love (bonus points if it's something I enjoy!) Hopefully we'll be able to expose them to a wide variety of experiences and perspectives, helping them shape their own views.

But don't kid yourself...we're still going to push scarlet and grey on them (and teach them the value of black and gold, Bearcat power, and make sure they know how to spell E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!), but I promise to use my power of persuasion like I use my new selfie stick...only for good.

(I said use it for good...not that we're actually good at using it...)

(yes, that's a baby dressed as a football, and for that I make NO apologies...)

See? He loves it. Because I told him so.
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1 comment :

  1. My family is all from Cleveland (and, sadly, are Browns fans. A lifetime of disappointment for sure), but I do have ONE cousin who was CRAZY (obviously ;) ) and went to Michigan. I'm quite a few years younger than she is so I'm not sure how THAT announcement went down, but I definitely understand your team analogies here!