What to Do When Your Kids Pick Their Favorite Teams


photo credit: #163/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #163/366 via photopin (license)

You can pick your Lotto numbers. Your pizza toppings. Even your kids’ noses, in a pinch. But, no matter how hard you try, you can’t pick your kids’ favorite teams.

When a man’s child pledges allegiance to a team, it’s the first lesson in loyalty. Pride. Passion. Trash talk. A world of high hopes, unwavering pride, dashed dreams, and reliance on the belief that you’ll get ‘em next year. Or the year after that.

The colors. The logo. The history. The immediate connection when you meet someone wearing your team’s colors – or the instant disdain felt when they sport your rivals’.

As a boy, I pledged my allegiance to the lowly Seattle Seahawks, an expansion NFL team featuring my hero, Jim Zorn, a tough-luck, left-handed quarterback. I brought my poster of Zorn to school; my gym teacher hung it above the back entrance.

I welled with pride with every lap and missed basketball layup under it. Every other kid at Centennial Elementary boiled over with vitriol, and took shots at my hero with dodge balls.

“This is my son, Eli,” Dad would say to friends, then look down. “He’s a Seahawks fan.”

“I’m sorry,” they’d respond, and shake their heads. They’d give me that look, as if I’d contracted the first case of leprosy / projectile diarrhea / chronic halitosis hybrid virus.

Frank Morado photo
Frank Morado photo

As a boy, I once foolishly leaped in the air to celebrate a missed field goal that gave my Seahawks a 13-10 victory against Denver. In my dad’s living room. Off his couch. Just feet from my embarrassed dad and stunned, angry uncle.

After my awful crime, I retreated to hide in the bathroom. My dad closed in quickly. And joined me.

I’d disgraced the Broncos, and my father. I got a good talking-to that day. A good one.

That marked my last Seahawks celebration under his roof.

At age 16, I converted on my own, from the Seahawks to Broncos. When Dad moved us to North Carolina, I felt a pull to pull for the team of my home state. I’ve been blue-and-orange ever since. My sister and I grew up in Broncos Country, watching our dad and uncles and grandpa live and die with Red Miller, Rick Upchurch and John Elway, listening to my grandpa break down the losses at the kitchen table, hair mussed, eyes tired, voice weak.

He’d just shake his head.


My daughters have chosen their teams: Elise, the San Francisco 49ers (because I took her to see the Panthers play them on her birthday); Marie, the Arizona Cardinals (only after she pared the 32-team NFL to five finalists, slept on the choice, then picked the team with the red jerseys and cool mascot); and Grace, recently switched from the Denver Broncos to the Carolina Panthers because of Cam Newton.

If their teams can beat my Broncos, the ice cream is on me. If my Broncos win …

“Daddy,” Elise peeped after a Broncos win. “I don’t have any money to buy ice cream.”

photo credit: profiterole via photopin (license)
photo credit: profiterole via photopin (license)

It’s OK. It’s still on me.

In fact, Elise got her ice cream revenge one year in a preseason game. Her 49ers hung a last-minute field goal on my Broncos to win. She celebrated unabashedly, in a 49ers T-shirt, fists thrust into the air, legs kicking.

I just smiled.

Maybe I’ve lost my edge. I secretly want the Cardinals and 49ers and even Panthers to beat my Broncos if they have the chance. They’re my kids’ teams.

“This is Elise / Marie / Grace,” I’d say to anyone who would listen.

“She’s a 49ers / Cardinals / Panthers fan.”

And she picked her team all by herself.


football season quote

What a catch: What happens when you fish with a 7-year-old

I can’t write about every daddy-daughter date.

We do this one a month, during the soccer offseason, my girls and I.

Each girl has her day. Teaching Marie to score a baseball game made such an impact, I had to write about it.

As the dude in the adjacent cubicle would say, “you GOTTA blog about THAT.”

I do, dude. I do.

Grace wanted nothing more than to fish on her first daddy-daughter date of this offseason. Her shins still bruised and scraped from the rigors of the season, she’d set her sights high on reeling in tiny fish on a Friday evening.

Oops, that’s Marie’s team banquet night. But when you get to terrorize a pizza line and attack the game room Reno-style, you can postpone your dream date by a day, apparently. (Especially if cupcakes are involved.)

Finally, there she stood in the doorway on a Saturday afternoon, flip flops, knobby knees, jean shorts, a Dutch soccer shirt and a pink-and-black baseball cap, waiting to cast some lines into the deep.

Right at that moment I’d love to have unzipped her head, to snap a picture of what she envisioned the day to be.

There she was, head full of dreams, cup full of worms, window down, breeze in her face, and a pond of unsuspecting fish ahead. She went right for the bait in the bait shop, forgoing the kiddie poles with Barbie, Dora and Spongebob in full endorsement.

Just give this girl a cup of worms. And a pond full of hungry brim.

I wonder what she thought when the muddy pond came into view. They’ll never tape Dangerous Catch in these waters. It’s a puddle, really, lined with trees and backyards and a slab of concrete we’ll call the dock.

This won’t be a chronicle of all the things said between a dad and a kid on her first fishing outing, but I did have questions of my own: How would the kid who spontaneously combusts into a cartwheel; who will make a jump rope out of anything she can swing and jump over; or seems to have two speeds – sleeping and turbo – handle the quiet and discipline necessary to fish?

Marvelously, as you can see.

As I fumbled in the tackle box, with a steady stream of accidental finger hooks and dropped lead weights with muffled curse words, she cast, and reeled in, using that perfect motion she used for soccer throw-ins to cast deep into the murky waters.

When a misfired cast nearly dropped hook, line and sinker on top of her head, I took the rod and reel, and gave it a good daddy cast – whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr – past a lazy turtle and into the snack zone.


Before I could hand the reel back to Grace, the bopper dipped, the rod bent, and the chase was on.

“You got one!” I told her, handing her the rod. “Reel him in!”

She smiled and leaned back, then reeled in like a champ with a form I can attribute only to the Wii. We hadn’t covered this part yet.

In she came, a decently-sized brim destined for mobile-phone pics and the distinction of being Grace’s first. Then, a kind release back to the muddy waters.

She posed and grinned with the prickly-finned prize, and, one not-so-graceful attempt to de-hook and release that left the fish agitated and dad’s shirt slimy, it was right back to how nature intended.

Grace cast her line again. And began to think.

“Dad,” she said, that look of disappointment on her face like she’d just chomped a broccoli stem she thought was a green M&M, “you really caught that fish. Not me. You threw out the line, and it bit while you were holding it.”

“But honey, it was your rod.” (This is fallible, as any good Latino knows – if you’re wearing the Lakers jacket with the switchblade in the pocket, it’s your switchblade, no matter who owns the jacket. Ergo, he who casts … )

“I’ll catch more,” she said. “Remember the lunch I just ate? And how I scored a hat trick the last time?”

How could I forget? Here’s all you need to know about my failed track record as dad – Grace equates gluttony and regurgitation with athletic glory, ever since the day she downed 10 McDonald’s chicken nuggets, upchucked, then turned in a three-goal game, all in the same day.

I looked over at the cleaned-out nuggets box and defiantly crumbled McDouble wrapper by our tackle box. That’s not such a bad display of gluttony, is it?

Then I remembered the bag of sour-cream-and-onion chips and bottle of Bug Juice she conned me into at Bi-Lo …

(What would Dr. Oz say?)

I’m happy to report this story ends not with daddy holding the baby’s ponytail, but the baby’s line, six times. In between a wrangle of hooks out of fishes’ mouths, she asked about water snakes, marveled at a blue heron that flew overhead, attempted three times (OK, five) to convince me a brim would make a marvelous pet, wondered out loud how a nightcrawler could survive a triple impalement, water-ski action and constant nips from from hungry turtles and fish.

As dinner time approached, she insisted on one more cast. I wondered about the monster I’d created. Something right out of a country song.

When the lid finally closed on the tackle box, she’d collected (and released) six fish, two turtles, one tree branch that for just .002 seconds convinced dad it was a water moccasin, and about a million stories.

Fish tales.

“Looks like you’re daddy’s little fisherman,” I told her as she wrote a sweet thank you note to the friends who let us fish here.

“No daddy,” she answered.

“Fisher girl.”

And you don’t need a Barbie rod and reel to be that.

How an Anonymous Story Made My Girl Smile Again

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc
photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

So, I took the girls to get their haircut the other day, and …

What? What’s so funny? Oh, that dad would be the one to take them? Psh. I’ve got this. I write of not being the “average” dad, and it’s true that sometimes I mean median income (I’m below) or median height (ditto).

I’m also 30 percent female, I’ve been told, and feel I do a good job as dad..

I make up for it, though, by letting my little kids use the restroom all the way in the back of Kohl’s, all alone, while I pour over the clearance racks in the men’s department in the front. But that’s another blog.

Continue reading “How an Anonymous Story Made My Girl Smile Again”

I’m On the Prowl – for Page Hits

I’m sort of on the prowl. At the grocery store. The soccer fields. McDonald’s. Even the DMV.

I can’t help myself. Sometimes when I see a woman, I just know she’s the one. I’ll size her up – see what her clothing and accessories say about her. If she appears smart, or technically savvy, or maybe even a bit lonely.

I always check that ring finger.

If she wears a ring, I’m more likely to approach her. I’m not proud of this, but I’ve learned that a wedding ring actually enhances our relationship.

I alway look for that specific quality. She either has it, or she doesn’t. It’s tough to explain. But if she has it, I want to share myself with her. You know, the part of me that makes its appearance about this time every week. I want to expose it. Hear what she thinks of it. Elicit her admiration, maybe.

I want her to know me.

Some might call me charming. Or an opportunist. I prefer to think that I have exceptional social skills and a little something (okay, a BIG something) that keeps the ladies coming back for more. Something provocative, even.

That something? My blog.

I want the page hits. And the comments. love the comments.

I believe in my blog. It’s informative, and edgy. Well, maybe not, but it means a great deal to me, helping me grow not only as a writer, but to understand myself as a father and as a man.

I was inexperienced at first, even a little awkward. I needed to “make things more personal” and “get naked with my emotions.

Back to moms….

I had a few choices during a fire alarm once at the DMV. Chatted it up with the nice-smelling girl named Kristen ahead of me. Pretty. Mid 20’s, jeans and boots. Friendly. She just didn’t have it, though. That look of joy with a twinge of exhaustion that tells a guy he’s in the presence of something as heroic (and kinda hot, really) as a mom.

Nothing to see here … busy businessman … quiet young guy who looks like he’s going to be in trouble for being late to work … two cheerleaders dolled up for spirit day.

Wait. Under that tree. Two o’clock. Looks like a pair of mommies, Houston.

I run my fingers through my hair. Straighten my clothes. Make my approach.

Me: (jokingly) Come here often?

Mom 1: Once a year.

Me: So … which one of you pulled the fire alarm? And … are you moms?

The direct approach. Women appreciate that. Laughter ensues.

What gave it away? They’re not wearing mom jeans or carrying a diaper bag. One’s in scrubs. The other, toting a huge coffee. Both smile. One tells me the details of her son’s recent tongue-bite injury.

They have that quality. They just do. They’re snapping pictures of the fire truck. Total Facebook-update material. (It’s lucky truck 13, by the way.)

I mention my blog. One has her phone out in an instant, to check it out.

beautiful,blondes,Cell phones,colors,emails,Fotolia,happy,images,laughing,messages,phones,Photographs,pretty,telephones,texting,texts,women,young
“Hey … I found you.”

“Ha!” she says. “This guy’s writing about the bad words his daughter knows!”

Got you right where I want you, mama.

Another notch in my belt.

I mean, hit on my page.

I hope she’ll share me.

With a friend.

There’s plenty of me to go around.