Orange Parenting: A House Divided - What to Do When Your Spouse Chooses to Root for Satan

When LAX loyalties collide, marriage counselors work overtime.

Although she’s been doing great work on this column I’ll be filling in for ShariCuse this week for reasons that have been previously-documented. She will return next week with much more insightful (and certainly less verbose) articles.

It’s said that a good relationship is built on being able to successfully compromise. This is especially true in the case of raising children. In most cases, disagreements as to the "right" way to do something tend to sort themselves out fairly easily, with common sense and convenience tending to rule the day. It is often more difficult to come to terms on an agreeable middle-ground on the truly important things that will shape the psyche and world-view of your children for the rest of their lives. I don’t mean trite things like which religion to raise them in, or which political philosophy should be taught as the most righteous. I refer, of course, to which sports teams they will support.

People coming to a relationship from different backgrounds will naturally bring different loyalties into the mix. For the most part, any conflicts that arise are good-natured and resolved without issue. However, there is the occasional instance (the "Romeo and Juliet Scenario," if you will), where people brought up cheering for teams whose fan bases are known to despise each other are drawn together in spite of this animosity, and overcome the obstacles of history to raise a family.

Shari and I have been somewhat lucky in this regard. Our baseball teams (Orioles for her, Mets for me), not only compete in different leagues, but have also both been so wretched of late that there is little cause for quarrel. In football, she’s a Ravens fan and I’m for the Giants, so there’s little overlap between them as well (Superbowl XXXV notwithstanding… f***ing Kerry Collins). In college football and basketball, we’re both obviously Syracuse Orange fans to the end, so no problems there.

And then there is Lacrosse. As she described in last week’s column, for the first portion of the ten years she lived in Baltimore, she was a student at the Johns Hopkins University and thus owes her allegiance to them rather than Syracuse when the teams meet on the Lacrosse field.

Johns… Hopkins… University. The Yin to Syracuse’s Yang. The Joker to our Batman. The Man in Black to our Jacob. This just goes to show that no matter how vigilant we can be as parents trying to raise our children to follow the path of righteousness, occasionally a child will slip through the cracks and turn to the Dark Side. As a result, during the period between Valentine’s Day and Memorial Day, when we’re not filling out our brackets for the NCAA Basketball Tournament and looking forward to spring training, discussions of sports in our house will often devolve into something resembling an argument between the Dowager Countess and Isobel Crawley:

Me: "I think the SU Lacrosse game starts at noon today."
Her: [pause] "That’s unfortunate, Sir, as I had already planned on watching the Johns Hopkins game beginning at that same hour."
Me: [longer pause] "Then, Madam, perhaps you’d be best served in retiring to another room to watch them play there."
Her: "Perhaps I shall do just that. All the better to support my team in an environment free from profanity and the coarse invectives typically cast at the television screen when Syracuse plays."
Me: "If such an antiseptic atmosphere, devoid of the passion of supporting one’s side on the field of honor, appeals to you, then it would be the best course of action."
Her: "Very well, then."

Along with this, waged in the shadows of our everyday family life, is a guerrilla war. Bars of soap will mysteriously disappear from the shower, unnoticed until there I stand with a head full of conditioner. Empty milk cartons will be found in the refrigerator when she goes to prepare her morning cereal. The toilet paper dispensers in the house suddenly all offer nothing more than an accumulation of empty cardboard tubes.

Now, if were just she and I in our family, this conflict would undoubtedly bubble to the surface into a much more aggressive campaign, but there’s a much bigger prize to consider than proving who is the better fan by pulling off the most childish stunt. There are the hearts and minds of future allies in the annual Battle of Competing Lacrosse Loyalties to win. I admit to being at a bit of an advantage in this, considering how many SU sporting events we attend each year and the inherent goodness of SU contrasted against the despicable Blue Jays. Fortunately for Shari’s cause however, children seldom make decisions based on logic and a Mother’s opinion is often more influential than a Father’s.

Therefore we as good parents—motivated by our own self-interest to leave a worthy legacy—are forced to resort to other means. For ever baby blue outfit with a blue jay on it that makes an appearance in a child’s wardrobe, two orange ensembles featuring Otto must also be represented. Each story telling the exploits of, Paul Rabil and Brian Piccola, needs to be met with even better tales of the adventures of the Gait and Powell families. A particular number begins to make an almost subliminal appearance in everyday activities:

"For desert tonight, you can have… 22 M&Ms."
"You go to your room for time-out and stay there for… 22 minutes."

And of course, should the children actually take an interest in playing the game themselves? We have just the right color stick for you:

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Come Memorial Day weekend, this Lacrosse season, like all others before it, will come to an end. Perhaps Syracuse will come away with their 12th Championship [ShariCuse Note: 11th… You’ve only got 10 Championships, 1990 doesn’t count!]. Perhaps Johns Hopkins will finally get their 10th championship (or just make it to the finals, which they haven’t done since 2007, by the way).

The sports world will continue to turn on its axis and we will cheer on the SU football and basketball teams as a family, all the while preparing our campaigns for the next season of deciding whither our children will be raised as Oranges or Blue Jays (or more appropriately, some weird Orange/Blue Jay hybrid monstrosity thing that nature will not abide). The battle rages on.

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