First thing’s first: I am no longer Pregnant in a Sundress.
At only 32 weeks gestation (8 weeks before her due date, for those not in the Baby Club yet), I had some pregnancy complications that forced an emergency c-section. So at 6:15 on October 24, my daughter Caroline was born. She spent 28 days in the NICU, but finally got to come home Sunday, November 20th. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year, since she is home just before Thanksgiving…and of course, the Iron Bowl.
If you watched the ESPN special “Roll Tide War Eagle” a few weeks ago, you know that:
1) Harvey Updyke is a complete idiot
2) Callers on the Finebaum show are generally insane
3) The term “Outkicked Their Coverage” applied to every man shown with a woman in that documentary, and
4) Children living in the Heart of Dixie are forced to choose a side – either Alabama or Auburn – practically from birth.
I can’t tell you how many babies in the NICU were sporting teeny tiny collegiate hats, onesies, and socks. I have Caroline’s outfit for this weekend already laid out in her room – a romper with Allie, the female version of Big Al on it, a crimson hat and matching pants. She’s also got a bib that says Rammer Jammer on it and an awesome football shaped rattle.
I might have gone a little overboard.
But that’s just how we do it. As “Roll Tide War Eagle” depicted, college football is the end-all, be-all in the great state of Alabama. We don’t have any pro teams, so with the exception of 4 minor league baseball franchises scattered from Huntsville to Mobile, college sports are as high as we go. Parents start training their children to root for their team as soon as they can talk. I practiced animal sounds with my oldest daughter when she was around 10 months old.
I’d say “What does a dog say?” and she’d respond “RUFF!”.
“What does a cat say?” “MEOW!”
“What does a sheep say?” “BAAAAA!”
“And what does an elephant say?”
Yes. Yes I did.
Kids around here learn early who they are to like and who they are to despise. I even tried to get my own children to pull for Auburn (when they’re not playing Bama, of course). I told them that Auburn is in the same state, and that sometimes we will pull for the Tigers and hope they win. My daughter is okay with this; however, my son is NOT.
I’ll never forget the day he looked up at my husband, seeming almost embarrassed, and said “Daddy…I don’t really like Auburn.”
Jon said, “Why not, buddy?”
And he said, “Because Emma, in my class….well, she likes Auburn. And she eats boogers.”
With the Iron Bowl coming up this weekend, and now that I have three children I am trying to raise to be crimson-bleeding (yet still courteous – yes, it’s possible) Alabama fans, I thought it was only appropriate that I get thoughts on the Auburn-Alabama rivalry from those who always tell it like it is – the kids.
I interviewed 14 different children, ages 4 to 9, and asked them “Do you like Alabama or Auburn?” and “What team do you not like?” and asked them to explain why.
These are some of their often amusing, sometimes misguided, but always straight-forward responses.
“I like Auburn. My dad says I have to.” ~ Andrew, age 5
“Alabama. Because they win.” ~ Kristin, age 6
“We like Alabama because my mom says she looks good in red.” ~ Taylor, age 9
“I like bulldogs because it’s fun to bark at people.” ~ Jordan, age 4 (It’s okay, he’s from Georgia).
“I don’t like Auburn. Orange is an ugly color.” ~ Rachel, age 7
“Alabama is the best because they have three big tvs at Bryan-Dino.” ~ Mason, age 6
“Auburn is my favorite. I like the Weeble Weeble cheer because I get to say “damn” and my dad doesn’t get mad.” ~ Patrick, age 8
“I like Auburn because Patrick does.” ~ Maddie, age 7
“I like Auburn because my mom said that snobby bitch Carla went to Alabama and we don’t like her.” ~name withheld, age 9
“Alabama. It’s fun to go to Tuscalooska. My nana buys me ice cream.” ~ Carter, age 5
“I don’t like Alabama. Everyone always talks about a bear but all I ever see is that big, dumb elephant.” ~ Emily, age 8
“I don’t like Auburn people. They’re stinky.” ~ Jackson, age 4
“Auburn is my favorite because they throw toilet paper in the trees and it looks like a haunted house.” ~ Camille, age 6
“Auburn isn’t good anymore. My dad says their fence is broken.” ~ Zachary, age 6
Since I am no longer pregnant – and never will be again – I must now begin the process of what I call “Raising Alabama”. This weekend, I’ll start indoctrinating Caroline to the ways of a true Bama fan. She’ll wear her game day outfit, hold a baby-size shaker in her hand and drink her milk from a UA logo bottle. I’ll spend the next few years showing her that Saturdays are made for football, and when she’s bigger, she’ll start learning about plays and penalties like I’m currently teaching her older siblings. If for some reason she ever needs a reminder of what teams we like and the ones we don’t in our house, she can always ask her big sister. When I asked my five year old daughter about the teams she liked, this was her fantasic (and not at all brainwashed) response:
“I like Alabama because Mommy went there. I like Auburn sometimes because she says I need to. But no matter what I do NOT like LSU. Their coach eats grass and they smell like corndogs.”
I’ve trained her so well.
(Editor’s note: Due to a technical issue, this article was previously attributed to Clay Travis. The byline has been corrected.)