My three kids were born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and are growing up within walking distance of the University of Alabama campus. We can hear the crowds roar at Bryant-Denny Stadium from our front yard, both my husband and I work at UA, I have two degrees from Alabama and two of our three kids have attended preschool on campus.
When you are a Tuscaloosa native, being an Alabama fan is kind of a given.
Now, we didn’t name any of our kids Crimson or Bryant. They didn’t wear Alabama gear from birth. But my kids did attend their first college football games as infants, they learned to say “Roll Tide” early, and when “spirit day” was held at school, there was never any question of which colors they were going to wear.
And so, I was a little shocked last month when I picked up my son from a luncheon held at Bryant-Denny Stadium. With a huge grin on his face, my 6-year-old bounded out of the stadium elevator with a new backpack and a rolled up Alabama football poster, items given out at the luncheon, sponsored by the nonprofit Nick’s Kids. Also from the luncheon was a photo of my 6-year-old son with a few other local students from the Tuscaloosa City Schools, standing in front of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry. My dimpled, blonde little boy smiled widely in the photo, Saban’s hand rested on his shoulder.
“You met Nick Saban?” I asked my kindergartner excitedly.
My boy shrugged. “Who’s that?”
Sometimes, I feel like I’m failing as a parent.
My son can tell you in exact detail the difference between an X-wing and a Tie Fighter in Star Wars, and which movies they appear in. He can tell you which character carries which colored lightsabers and can build a pretty impressive “spaceship” out of Legos in a matter of minutes.
He’s all about collecting Nerf guns and playing Minecraft.
But when it comes to sports, he’s clueless.
Sure, he’s played soccer since he was 3-years-old, but he’s more interested in goofing off with friends while sitting on the sidelines than going after any ball. When we tried to get him to play baseball like his daddy did, he was emphatically against it. When strangers see our son and how tall he is — with both parents 6-foot or taller, he’s on target to reach 6-foot-4 — they suggest we get him in sports early.
But he seems to have little interest. Maybe that will come, as he gets older. Maybe it will grow, as he learns more about the games. For now, we’ll continue to take him to football games.
Last weekend, there was some hope.
We boarded a shuttle in Opelika, headed to Jordan-Hare Stadium to watch Auburn play Georgia Southern University, my husband’s alma mater. The bus driver jokingly told the passengers, mostly Auburn fans, that he accepted tips, or we could say “War Eagle” or “Go Eagles” as we exited the bus. Everyone laughed.
“But I say ROLL TIDE!” my son said emphatically.
The bus driver chuckled.
“Who let this kid on the bus?” he asked.
When it comes to Alabama football, my son’s not a lost cause. Not yet.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.