When you’re a parent, you focus on teaching kids the basics of life.
Tie your shoes. Clean up after yourself. Be polite to people.
Sometimes, it’s nice to see they’re learning more positive things from you than just those basics. Instead of just lessons, they’ll pick up on passions.
I’m a fairly low-key guy. It takes quite a bit to get me worked up. On our wedding day, my wife looked at me and surmised, “So this is what happy looks like?”
But when it comes to the Chicago Bears, I have genuine passion.
I don’t know why. I can laugh off everything from local politics to worldwide Ebola virus epidemics. But the second the Bears let their successful backup quarterback, Josh McCown, go to Tampa Bay in the offseason, I started to sweat. What if Jay Cutler gets injured again this year?
My wife and my three daughters are also Bears fans, perhaps for fear of what might happen if they asked to switch football games on a Sunday. I never thought they were all that into it, though. Sure, they might sit through watching a few hours of a game on the couch with me, but that didn’t mean they had a passion for the team.
A trip to the Bears Family Fest last weekend proved me wrong.
Every year, the team has this event for families to watch the team practice for a few hours. You get a chance to look around historic Soldier Field (and its not-so-historic looking addition from a few years back).
We enjoy going to Chi-town. My parents grew up in the outskirts, so it’s always felt like a home away from home. When my wife suggested going to the event, it didn’t take much to sell me.
The tickets were quite reasonable, especially compared with the price of seeing a regular-season game. At $81 per seat, I’m not sure my daughters would ever see a game in that stadium. It seemed like a good way to gauge their real interest in seeing the team play in person.
As we walked toward the stadium, it became clear this trip had meaning. I began hearing the girls talk in awe as they saw the stadium. When we finally entered its gates, their rapid steps slowed down to try to take in the atmosphere.
I’ve only been in the stadium four times, but even then you grow numb to some of the cool sights between those stately columns of Soldier Field. It wasn’t lost on my girls, though.
When we finally got to our seats, they were all grinning ear to ear. They began pointing at people on the field, asking if they were their favorite players. They really got revved up at the official beginning of the practice, when the public address announcer introduced every player on the team.
My 6-year-old daughter took particular interest in all the drills. When we shifted around in our five seats and she was closer, she asked astute questions about why they did each of these things in practice. She wanted t0 know how it helped in a game. She especially wanted to understand the differences in the positions.
We had deep, meaningful football conversati0ns. As sexist as it will sound, I assumed I’d never have these chats with my offspring. As a dad to three girls, I thought my days would be filled with talk about clothes and hair pretties.
They pretty much are, but every so often those clothes are football jerseys and the hair pretties are in the blue and orange of the Bears.
Toward the end of our time there, long after her sisters had lost interest, my 6-year-old thanked us for bringing her to the stadium. Then she said she couldn’t wait until she saw a real game there with us.
She apparently shares my passion for the Bears. It’s hard to imagine being much prouder that she learned something from me.