Family Day in Death Valley…Why Not!?!?!

First off, I’m talking about Death Valley, SC, otherwise known as Frank Howard Memorial Stadium, home of the Clemson Tigers.   Of course, taking both boys to the real Death Valley may have been just as painful and definitely not painless.

At the last minute, very last minute to be exact, my husband’s boss called him up to see if we would like tickets for this past Saturday’s Clemson vs. Georgia Tech game.  If we were single, no kids in tow, we would have immediately jumped on the tickets.  Our situation being as it is, we hemmed and hawed before finally deciding we would go IF his boss had tickets for the boys as well.   Turns out he did, much to our overwhelming dismay, I mean, er, excitement!  Yes, EXCITEMENT!

So I’m being a bit dramatic.  Truthfully, I was excited.   I was going to do something I’ve always dreamt about since my days of matriculating at that beautiful University.   I can recall the days when I was student, tailgating in the free spots (these don’t exist anymore) and seeing all the little kids dressed up in their Tiger uniforms, be it football jerseys or cheerleading outfits.  I used to think to myself, “I’m going to do this with my kids one day.”

On his way to his first Tiger's game.
On his way to his first Tiger’s game.

After having my boys, and experiencing first hand, the overly exhausting work of not just raising them but also keeping them AND me alive, I decided that the ole dream of spending a day at a Clemson game with my family would have to be shelved for later years.   I don’t know what it says about mine and my husband’s parenting skills or perhaps the demeanor of our two boys that we CAN’T go to a game and tailgate like all the other families.   Surely, something somewhere must be amiss, right?

Davey's face should have forewarned us of the storms ahead.  He didn't want Henry to go along.
Davey’s face should have forewarned us of the storms ahead. He didn’t want Henry to go along.

At the start of the season, we were given four tickets to a Clemson game.   After much debate, my husband and I decided we would take Davey and leave Henry with my parents.   Surprisingly, the day went spectacular and I suppose it provided us with a false sense of security where sporting events are concerned.   So, when the opportunity presented itself this past Saturday, and us without a babysitter since my parents were out of town, we decided, what the heck!  Let’s take both boys.    Apparently, my husband and I are a glutton for misery.

Why on earth would someone want to bring their kids, especially two boys aged 4 and 22 months, to a Clemson football game on a rainy Saturday for possibly one of the biggest games of the season?   Why?  I wish I had that answer.   I wish I had the answer as to why we didn’t hesitate to say “yes”.  I wish I had the answer to “where were our heads?”   But really, I want to know the answer to is why does it seem that everyone else can bring their kids to tailgate and a game and still enjoy themselves?   Why can’t we?

50 yard line seats.   Would have been even better if we could have enjoyed them.
50 yard line seats. Would have been even better if we could have enjoyed them.

One minute and five seconds into the game, Clemson drew blood, and I was already to the point of wanting to slit my own wrists.   I can’t even recall how Clemson managed to score because I was much too busy trying to keep Henry from picking up random pieces of food on the ground and eating them.   By Clemson’s next scoring drive, I really just wanted to get drunk, just to numb the pain of Davey punching Henry, Henry slapping Davey, and both boys wanting to run around like a pack of wild banshees.  My husband and I spent the better portions of the game holding the boys and trying to serve as referees between the two of them.  It was quite literally the worst experience I’ve ever had in my beloved Death Valley, worse than any of the losing games I’ve sat through.

Moving forward, when my husband and I are offered tickets to a Clemson game, and we don’t have a sitter for the boys, we won’t be asking the question, “why not?” but instead “WHY?”  To all of you parents who are able to go these games with your children I secretly despise you and loathe the ground you walk on, but I’m also envious of your magical abilities to get your children to cooperate.   Please, tell me your secret.

And while we left knowing Clemson had won the game, we put the boys to bed early last night and watched an entire replay of the game just so we could really see how well Clemson played because that’s how my husband and I roll with college football.

Our first family game at Clemson!
Our first family game at Clemson!

Go Tigers!


Cole Stoudt is MY Son and MY Son is Cole Stoudt

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. I watch him struggle. I see his frustration, his anger and impatience when he’s pushing himself so hard to achieve his goals, but still falls short. I know he’s his own worst critic and I know his self-deprecating personality. I know it all, because I’ve experienced it all. It comes from me, a nasty little gene he inherited from his mother. He doesn’t need anyone else to say they’re disappointed in him, he’s already disappointed in himself.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. These are my thoughts as I sat surrounded by my fellow Clemson Tiger fans on Saturday afternoon to watch our heated rivalry with the USC Gamecocks. We’ve lost 5 straight to the boys from the midlands, our season hasn’t panned out the way we’ve hoped, and the one who was to be our starting QB disappointed us on game 1 of what we had hoped would be a championship season. We needed this win yesterday to maintain our bragging rights and to be able to stomach another year.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. Talk ran rampant all week long about who would be our QB. I listened to some of my own family members laugh at our back up, who at times had become our starter. He’s a good quarterback. He’s smart, he’s athletic, but he’s not as good as the one who was chosen to be our starter. This doesn’t make him bad, it doesn’t make him subpar. It makes him HIM. And for every football fan and critic out there, the ones who questioned his masculinity, called him names, and degraded his athleticism, I implore you to go out on that field and try to do what he does.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. I can’t abide the way adults tear apart children. It angers me how so many will push another person’s child around, destroying what little bit of confidence they may have. If this were your child, listening to the incessant boos when he walked out onto the field, the horrendous name calling and foul language, how would you feel? As a parent, tell me, how would you feel? No one deserves to be treated the way Cole Stoudt is treated. NO ONE.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. I see this already day in and day out with Davey. He’s an overachiever. He pushes himself, strives to not disappointment, to make us proud. I watch his anger and lack of patience when he can’t accomplish something that a 5 year old should be able. He’s three! Why should he ever, or anyone for that matter, expect himself to do something that an older child can do? Why should he be compared to other children? Why should he compare himself?

Cole Stoudt is my son and my is Cole Stoudt. I spent an entire football season watching a young man struggle to seek the acceptance from fans who couldn’t possibly do one ounce of what he does. I watched him beat himself up. I watched as with each jeer and each boo, his confidence slowly was stripped away. I watched as drunken fans high-fived and toasted each other on their clever words of ineptitude. I listened with disgust as some threatened his life. The life of another person’s child, an innocent, over a football game. A game, something so trivial, something that no one has enough stake in that would encourage the happiness of ending another person’s life.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt.
I bow my head in shame and disgust as I type this out. Why? Because in my younger years, full of drunken follies, I actually resorted to the low level name calling of some of the same people I write about today. I treated another human being like he was less than me, not worthy of sharing the same air as myself, not worthy of experiencing the same happiness. I was once that fan, but now I’m a mother. I am a mother of two boys, one of which I can see feeling like Cole Stoudt at some point in his life, and it pushes me to be a better person.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. He is a human being, folks. He bleeds the same as you and I. He breathes the same air, walks the same wonderfully green earth. He is not more and he is not less. He is a child, a person, who chose to play a sport. He is someone who found something he loved, football, and decided to play. We, as a society, have perhaps robbed him of not only his self esteem, his confidence, his wit, but also that passion. We, as a society, have helped to tear him apart piece by piece and for that I say, “SHAME ON ALL OF US.”

Being a mother has forced me to look at things through a different set of spectacles. It’s no longer about me, but more about my children and what makes them happy and what I can do to encourage them. I like to think about Cole Stoudt’s mother. I wonder what she’s experiencing as she listens in the stadium and then is forced to endure replay upon replay on television. How must she feel as she watches her son being stoned to death with the vile words of others?

I implore all of you to just STOP IT! Stop it all! It’s football! You’re not out on the field. If you think you can do a better job, then please step into the shoes of one of our children. Not many adults can withstand that pressure. Most I know would crumble. Think of how you’d feel if this were child. Think of how you would feel if this were you. Don’t do this anymore. Don’t demean our children just because he or she may not help us win a game.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt.