I grew up not a UGA fan. One of my earliest memories involves a vinyl covered stool that my Aunt and Uncle had in their home when we were visiting. It had a Yellow Jacket on it. My Uncle graduated from Georgia Tech. From then on, I understood us to be a Tech family.
Because in Georgia–those are pretty much your choices. Georgia or Georgia Tech. There are other colleges, but that’s the big state rivalry.
It didn’t make me popular. Still doesn’t. When I wear my GT hoodie out, there are times when another Tech fan speaks up, not too loud of course, excited to find “another” outsider.
Bulldawg fans are serious, y’all. But so are we. I was right. We are a Tech family. When I was at Wesleyan, we as a student body voted Georgia Tech to be our brother school. (I think this was so we could cheer for a football team or invite them to our socials…..right now the exact reason eludes me.) A few years later Sister graduated from Tech, marrying a boy she met there. After that my Cousin and my brother both graduated from there. (I’m not mentioning the two cousins who went to UGA–we still shake our heads over that.) Mess Cat married Leroy, who also came from a diehard Tech family. Only they were a bit more serious–they had actually been to games. Live. In person.
Yes. Go Tech!
So you can understand why I was a bit perplexed, befuddled, if you will, that our Princess announced at a very young age that she is a Bulldog fan.
Where on earth did she pick up such language?
When she was smaller, it was cute. Oh look at the little one, she thinks she knows what she’s talking about. Okay. Whatever. We patronizingly indulged her little game, knowing full well it would. not. last.
Only it did.
A couple of years ago she found a UGA top that she liked at the GW Boutique. I got it for her, struck with bewilderment and wondering who had switched my child at the hospital in Japan, and where on earth was my little Buzz-loving child? She wore it often, and I would feign shock and displeasure when she did. We both wound up laughing before the day was over. She loved reminding us where her allegiance stood by calling out, “Go Dawgs!” quite a bit during football season.
She eventually outgrew that top. She does not, thankfully, have a replacement. So be it. (She does have an Auburn top, and I believe I tried to sneak a GT one in on her to no avail.)
Today we dashed in at the GW Boutique on our Outs and Abouts. I was looking at blazers for my future law school student, when I came across a red hoodie. I’m a lover of all things hoodie-fied, if you will recall, so I flipped it around, fingers crossed, hoping it would not be…..
but it was…..
Now in this state, “Georgia” on a hoodie does not mean what you think it means. Georgia on a hoodie–a red hoodie with black writing–means only one thing. U. G. A.
This was not the hoodie I was looking for.
Still, in the interest of full disclosure, and because it was a hoodie and most of hers are getting too short on her, I lifted it up and showed it to our Princess as she walked over to where I was.
She smiled. Really big.
That touched my heart and almost made me feel bad about not being all gung ho about this hoodie.
“So do you want it?” I asked her.
She looked at it, smiled again, and shook her head.
“No. I mean, it’s nice, but I don’t want it.”
“Well, I can just think about how it will bother you if I wear it.” She giggled and then looked a little serious. “I know how you feel about it, and I don’t want to make you feel all that every time I wear it.”
I took her by the shoulders and looked her straight in her eyes with fierce love. “Baby girl, NO MA’AM. You are a Georgia fan. I can’t explain why, but you are. Must have been something in the water or something. Either way, you are a Georgia fan. That’s how you feel, you chose it. Do not–DO NOT EVER–change what you love or how you believe or what you want in life because you are limiting yourself to others’ expectations and preferences. YOU DO YOU. YOU BE YOU. As long as you’re not physically hurting anyone else or being intentionally unkind, you don’t change who you are one bit. Be loving, be kind, but BE YOU. Every bit of your beautiful self.”
Okay, so that’s what I should have said. Only I didn’t. It didn’t occur to me until we were almost home WITHOUT the hoodie that I had missed a teachable moment.
*sigh* It could have been so beautiful too. And then we would have gone arm in arm to the check out to buy the hoodie. And instead of being (mock) frustrated every time she wore it, I would have seen it as my child expressing herself and comfortable doing so–even when she is the only one who feels the way she does. I would have seen my child comfortable and okay with who she is and what she embraces.
Instead I was so wrapped up with how much she cared about my feelings that I totally blanked on what could have been a powerful lesson.
Man. I really messed up.
I have put my request in with my people who are in that area that if they happen back by that GW Boutique and “iffen” that hoodie is still there, please get it for my baby. I want to be able to tell her those things. And hand her the hoodie and apologize. It might not be a big deal for her now, but one day, I want her to remember it and be encouraged when life has her feeling on the outside because she believes differently than others do.
Because it’s bound to happen. Eventually.
I’m reminded of the story of my cousin’s oldest child (who married a month ago–oh my, the time has flown) when he was very young. He adored his grandmother, my aunt, and he was talking to her about a movie he loved. I can’t remember which one it was, but he was so happy about it, and he asked her if didn’t she love it too. She was honest about it and told him she really didn’t care for it much. He was sad, and then she told him that it was okay. That people who love each other can like different things and it still be okay.
I love that so much. It has stuck with me for probably twenty years. I want my children to take that story to heart.
It’s okay to like different things and still be okay with other people.
Better than okay.
May you have the courage to be you–today and everyday.
Love to all.