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Posts tagged ‘michigan wolverines’

boy crazy

We spent Labor Day weekend with a group of friends at the Oregon Coast. The last gasp of Summer 2012. Two houses, and ours was the boy house. At various points in the weekend, there were seven boys, aged 4 months to 6 years, tearing through the house. That’s Kai at left, who I managed to fall in love with, in spite of his dad Kenji being Japanese.

You already know the weekend was nuts, so you probably think I’m going to go all downer on you, but not today, friends. Try this on for size: boys are awesome. Throw in the reliably amusing behavior of their dads, and it all added up to an epic weekend of observing all the different ways in which men can be men.

don’t worry, there’s no maker’s in the yogurt

The weekend reaffirmed for me everything I’ve known since I was 17 and told my high school boyfriend that I wanted three sons. And that is, that boys rule.

finn with cool girl tessa

As I was saying, boy behavior is really fun to observe. Here’s Garrett, a stellar boy child who spent most of the weekend clicking photos on a little fake camera and dragging his brown blanket around. See that bit stuck in his nose right there? That’s the “Stinky Part.” The part that Garrett sticks in his mouth and nose, the part that soothes him as no other part of the blanket can. The part he asks for by name. Garrett’s mom Michele worries that there’s actual mold in the Stinky Part, but he’s a stubborn one. Boys can be that way.


Garrett found a mate in Tate, my chill kid who is usually doing his own thing away from the crowd. In the pic below, there’s a group of sand castle makers, and then Tate, in the distance, making an offering to the sea. He played silently by himself in this manner for a long stretch of time, only pausing to snack on handfuls of sand and some charred wood from a bonfire.


But not even Tate could resist the fun of romping around with a bunch of boys all weekend. And that’s the beauty of boys. Get a bunch of them together, and they physically cannot stay apart. They’re like magnets. The touching inevitably leads to fighting, so you try to nip it in the bud and pull them apart early on, but why? Then you’d miss out on moments like this.

Or this. BTW we don’t think Garrett was going for a Nazi salute. Or that Finn intended to hug his brother by the face. But with boys, sometimes the execution can be a little rough.

Big boys are fun to observe too. Michigan played Alabama over the weekend. Luckily for the group, we can claim as our own, the two most long-suffering Michigan fans west of Ann Arbor. When I met Tom, Michigan was winning, and things were different–he was obsessed, but justifiably so, and while the team might lose a game or two, the season always ended on a happy note. These days, watching Whitey and Tom sit through a Michigan game is akin to watching two people flagellate themselves. It’s all very sad to observe. But also, very funny.

Here they are, mid-game. Note Whitey, self-medicating. Note Chris, in background, bored. Note Tom, looking like he’s passing a stone. Please also note that I’ve actually watched Tom pass a kidney stone, and he looked less pained then than he does here.


Probably due to the strain from staring at a TV that hard for four hours while willing it to show something other than a 41-14 loss, Tom woke up the next day with a bruised, purple eyelid. He admitted early on that it didn’t hurt, but that doesn’t mean the eye didn’t make its presence felt throughout the remainder of the weekend. In fact, given Tom’s intense focus on his eye, you would think that the eyeball had fallen out or was hanging on by a single nerve. When I asked if anyone needed anything at the store, the sole request came from Tom, who mewled that he could use some hydrocortisone and Advil. When he disappeared for an hour before dinner, I found him hiding under a duvet, sleeping. When I poked him awake, he yelled that he was “resting his eye.”

Tom spent a good part of Saturday googling his symptoms on his phone, with no firm diagnosis. For the record: if you google “purple” and “eyelid,” you will quickly land on “eyelid dermatitis.” It took me like 17 seconds, as it might take you—assuming, I guess, that you are female. If you are male, you might start with “purple eyelid,” get distracted by game highlights on ESPN, and then find yourself watching Kate Upton doing the Dougie on YouTube, two hours later. No joke, my friend Ethan has watched that video like 3700 times. But I’m rambling again. I guess if Tom had managed to diagnose his eye, he couldn’t have enjoyed lurking in the background all weekend with a dishtowel pressed to his face. Here he is, photo-bombing poor baby Graham.


Boys are wild. Boys are rambunctious. Boys can be hooligans. But I’d argue that boys have a capacity for uncomplicated joy—expressed through flying-ninja kicks, overeager hugs, and go-go-go—that is second to none. Boys have no talent for artifice, and call a spade a spade, even if that spade means offering the unsolicited opinion that you have a moustache. They love and feel pain with everything they have. And if you’re lucky, your boys turn into men like the ones here: complicated, challenging, indomitable, and my God—so damn amazing.


I had kids for lots of reasons. Tom had kids for just one: to turn them into tiny fans of the sports teams that he roots for.

It’s a full time job. I observe it all as an outsider, but from where I sit, it looks like exhausting work, pumping a five-year old’s brains full of all the useless trivia, stats, rules, and lore associated with his dad’s favorite sports teams. Overhearing Tom’s explanation of offsides this morning was enough to fry my brain, and I’m 34. Inexplicably, Finn, who has little patience for anything, is like a dry sponge when it comes to this sort of knowledge. So Tom’s finally got what he’s wanted his entire life: a willing and captive audience.

The problem is, all that info is an awful lot for a five-year old to process. Besides Premier League and MLS soccer, Finn hears a lot about football (college and pro), the NBA, Tar Heels basketball, and the Detroit Red Wings and whoever they are playing that week. Understandably, Finn digests the info, and then regurgitates it later, half-baked. Which is why I expect that in about a week or so, I will overhear him explaining offsides authoritatively to a friend, and it will sound something like this: “Offsides is when you stand in front of the goalie, and you are first in line and no one is in front of you…and then…you can kick the goalie.”

just what every four-year old wants, a jersey from a team that plays in another country

I have objected to Tom about his unhealthy obsession, many times. So now he just waits until I’m out of the room to do the indoctrinating. So it was that this morning, I overheard him and Finn, in front of the computer, deep in conversation:

Tom: “See, Finn…look…this is a wolverine. It’s a small but highly ferocious animal. Watch this video! It’s taking away food from two WOLVES!! See how tough he is??”

Finn: “Yes, Daddy.”

Tom: “And this, Finn–this is a picture of a buckeye. It’s, well…it’s a nut. Like a peanut or a cashew. So a wolverine is much better than a buckeye, see?”

Or last week, while making toast in the kitchen:

Finn: “Daddy, I can root for whatever team I want, right?”

Tom: “Well, yes, Finn. Except for certain teams. Like Chelsea. You can’t root for Chelsea. Or Tottenham. Or the Lakers. Or Notre Dame. And you probably don’t want to root for the Yankees, or the Dallas Cowboys, or the Sounders. And we never want to root for the Buckeyes, because their fans are just bad people. (Pause). Well, except for Renner’s daddy, he’s probably not a bad person. (Pause). You shouldn’t tell Renner his daddy is a bad person.”

Finn: “Ok Daddy.”

tom says finn did this all by himself. let's just say i have my doubts

The time spent on this sort of education is especially galling because I feel that Tom’s time would be better spent instilling in his son the true virtues associated with sports, like, say, sportsmanship. Finn came home today from soccer practice, and said his team won 2-1. When I dug deeper, it turned out that his team had lost 2-1. When Tom asked him about the factual inconsistency, Finn blithely responded that the other team’s second goal didn’t count because he didn’t see it happen. Now, I’m all for teaching a kid why Tim Tebow sucks, but when your kid is saying the other team’s goals don’t count if the goals happen while his back is turned, it would appear that there are more urgent lessons to be taught.

So now it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and Tom’s beloved Patriots are playing (Tom Brady: Michigan alum). Who knows what lessons the day will bring?