The Child Loved Football From the Beginning


In honor of the Super Bowl, and parenting – listen it works in my mind, so just go with it – I want to tell you a few stories about my friend Justin. Justin is almost a teenager now but he has been obsessed with sports ever since he was a little boy. This is a child that I overheard talking in his sleep at about 18 months. He was in his crib mumbling “bootball, b-ball, golf.” Football, basketball, golf. True story. It was one of the weirdest, cutest things I have ever seen. Justin used to ask his mom to watch SportsCenter before he could say SportsCenter properly.

Listen, I am not even going to try to pretend to be unbiased here. My two best friends from college married each other and then made this perfect child. He was the first baby in our group of friends. My husband and I (before he was my husband) used to drive two and a half hours to see him (and his parents) once a month because we didn’t want to miss anything. I loved him so much that I was actually afraid that when my niece was born two years later I wouldn’t love her as much.

Turns out I drastically underestimated my capacity to love children. It was fine. I am absolutely crazy in love with my niece, still, and she is a tween.

But back to Justin and his sports obsession.

This is actually my kid running around in a helmet that is too big for him, but you get the idea.

This is actually my kid running around in a helmet that is too big for him, but you get the idea.

My favorite Justin football story took place when he was about two and a half years old. We were at his house watching a football game. He was wearing a helmet and had his football and he would get into position before every snap. For every single snap he would pop up and scramble and run around like a crazy man. A lot of times he would yell TOUCHDOWN! and do the appropriate signal.

He knew all of the signals. Tripping was his favorite.

Justin would just try to watch the action on the tv and do whatever he saw.

Like the time a player took a big swig out of his Gatorade bottle and swished it around and spit it back out.

Justin swaggered over to his zippy cup, took a pull and then spit apple juice all over the carpet.

His mother said “Justin! You can’t spit in the living room!” He pointed at the television and countered “But the football boy spit in the living room!”

He had a point. Not a very good one, but still.

When his parents were toilet training him they made a deal. If he pooped in the potty he could call whoever he wanted on the telephone. Anyone – Grandma, Santa Claus, Spongebob, anyone. Gabe and I were on call to provide celebrity impersonations as needed. To give you some perspective, two years later when his little brother was potty training one of co-workers had to pretend to be the Green Lantern. When Justin finally did as required he chose not Superman, not the President, not Barney, but Tampa Bay Buccaneer, John Lynch.

As my friend Jeff asked incredulously “The safety?”

Yes. My husband had to pretend to be the strong safety and say “Good job pooping in the potty!”

This child could have picked anyone in the world and he chose John Lynch.

So you see why I love Justin so much. You also see why the Super Bowl makes me think of him.

Have a happy Super Bowl Sunday.



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