My husband Brad is obsessed with football--particularly Ole Miss football. No, wait. I think I got that backwards. My husband Brad is obsessed with Ole Miss--particularly Ole Miss football. Although he would watch them compete in chess, or water polo, or underwater basket weaving, given the opportunity. One of the first questions he asked me when we met was if I liked Ole Miss or Mississippi State. I gave him a straight-up honest answer: "I don't care." He looked completely shocked for a minute, like he wondered how that was even possible, and then he said "I can work with that." And work with it he did! Our first date was to an Ole Miss football game. (Against Vandy actually, and we lost, but our relationship has thankfully had much better stats.) Fast forward about thirteen years and last weekend while we were at Ole Miss hanging out with friends and family before the game we had the following conversation:
Brad: "Hey, Melissa, remember when we were students here and we beat Florida and everyone was so excited that the fans ran out on the field and tore the goal posts down?"
Me: "Yeah, I remember. That was a great game."
Brad: (obviously having some kind of brain malfunction) "Was Tim Tebow the quarterback then?"
Me: "No! That was way before Tim Tebow. Rex Grossman was the quarterback then, and after him was Chris Leake, and THEN Tebow."
Shane: "Girl, I'm so proud of you! Give me five."
Dez: "Alright, Melissa, every guy here just drooled a little bit."
So yeah, I've come a long way for the girl who didn't care, not even a little bit. I'm not nearly as obsessed as Brad, but I do love Ole Miss (our alma mater!) and I love sports. And Tim Tebow. :)
People often ask us what Korban's "thing" is. Meaning his obsession. Because, you know, all autistic people have a "thing." (Please note that was said with a little touch of sarcasm. If you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism. But it is true that many people with autism have a particular strong interest in a certain area.) I was getting sort of worried because he didn't really have an obsession (except for bellybutttons, and I didn't want to call anymore attention to that!) I mean, he likes Thomas the Train. He likes trains, period. A lot. But he doesn't really obsess over them. He likes balloons. He likes Tigger. He likes a lot of stuff, but it tends to shift around and it's hard to say at any given time what he likes the most. But I'm beginning to believe that he is going to follow in his father's footsteps and sports are going to be his "thing." We used to go to Jackson, MS for his doctor's appointments all the time and when we passed through Oxford Brad would drive through the campus and point out different things to Korban. And Korban went to his first football game before his second birthday. Once during one of Brad's drive-through campus tours, Korban got MAD because there wasn't a game going on. I mean, seriously mad. It was so funny. I thought Brad was going to cry he was so happy. Ha! We had to stay in Jackson that night, and we wound up taking him to see the M-Braves play a baseball game. He still remembers the Tomahawk Chop to this day. And on the way back home, Ole Miss happened to be playing a baseball game, and we stopped and caught part of that game too. Happy Daddy, happy Korban.
Selah doesn't want to be left out of any of the action either. She's a super-cute cheerleader. Very enthusiastic too. She had her first football game during Ole Miss's season opener this year. It was a beautiful day and we were all very happy to be there. Let me say though, Brad's pregame routine is NOT one of my favorite football memories. He loves plowing through all the bazillion people in the Grove and then getting into the stadium super early. When we were in school and had student tickets and the seats were first come first serve, I mean we got there as soon as the gates opened. And he just rolled his eyes and smiled when I pulled a book out of my bag and commenced to read until the game started. (Hey, I said I became a fan, not a complete nut like he is!) So this day we walked around the Grove with our kiddos in tow until I had to stop and rest because I was having major neck pain. I couldn't understand it--Brad was carrying Selah on his shoulders and I was holding Korban's hand and I just couldn't figure out why my neck was hurting. Then I realized the bag I was carrying was packed with extra clothes for both kids, water, snacks, Korban's iPad, etc. etc. Traded Brad the bag for Selah and I was good to go. I swear, she was lighter. Selah and I needed a bathroom break, so we found the Hotty Toddy Potty. This is basically a trailer that has been divided into a good number of teeny, tiny, bathroom stalls. And yes, it really is called the Hotty Toddy Potty. It even has that painted on it. Korban insisted on going in with us and I still don't know how all three of us managed to fit in one of those micro-stalls. Korban refused to use the bathroom once we were all crammed in there. Selah took care of business and then tried her best to open the door on me. I was doing that thing where you talk quietly through your teeth and try to sound really serious and severe, telling her not to open the door. I was speaking right into her ear, too, which was unfortunate because her hair was wild with all the humidity and one of her curls snagged right in my teeth. Not even kidding. So she was wailing "Ow Mommy! You bit my hair! You BIT my HAIR off!!!" and crying at the top of her lungs. About that time Korban and his sensitive snout detected an odor that he didn't appreciate. He was pounding on the wall in the direction of the noxious fumes all the while shouting "OH NO, MOM! SOMEONE'S POOPING! SOMEONE'S POOPING! OOOH NOOOO!" Needless to say, I couldn't get them out of there fast enough. We popped out of the exit with me looking all harried and I told Brad "I'm NEVER doing that again!" Shortly after that, we made our way to the stadium and found our seats. Things calmed down considerably after that. Korban amazes me, because with all his sensory issues and everything, he can sit and watch sports and be so content. He doesn't try to get up and wander around--he doesn't even really stim. Sometimes he holds his ears because it's so loud, but he doesn't do that as much as he used to. By the way, I find it a little ironic that we are always on him about not screaming, and that is actually encouraged at sporting events. Well, not the exact kind of screaming he typically does--his is very sudden and angry--but still! It's funny. We always tell him not to scream because it scares people. When the band came out to play, everyone cheered. Korban turned to me and worriedly said "Those people holler. Scare the band!" Which really cracked me up because I'm very imaginiative and I got a great mental image of the band members tossing their instruments into the air and running off the field in terror as the people cheered. But of course, that didn't really happen. People also stomp the bleachers as they cheer, making the bleachers shake. Korban said for days afterwards "Those people sure did cheer and shake." Yes they did! We weren't sure if we would stay the whole game, but we did! I was so proud of the kids. We got pom pons when we went in and Selah was shaking hers and cheering. It was so cute. There was an older man sitting next to her and he was very sweet. He talked to her and played with her and she really liked him. It's always good to have nice people to sit by.
*Flashback from Brad and Melissa's college years*
Remember earlier when I mentioned the Florida game that Ole Miss won when the goalposts came down? That game is also memorable to me for another reason. We got there super early to get our seats on the front row of the student section. (Of course we did!) Another guy got there about the same time we did and he sat down next to us and started chatting. Now just let me say here that it seemed that many of the people at the games always had alcohol, even though it isn't allowed in the stadium. They always found creative ways to sneak it past security. I never knew just how creative until that day, though. As our fellow student (whom we had never met before) was chatting with us, he proceeded to stand up, unzip his pants, reach in, and product a baggie of liquor which he added to his drink while I gawked at him. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said, seemingly coming to his senses (or so I thought.) Then, holding up the baggie he politely asked "Would you like some?" Um, no.
1. I don't drink.
2. Even if I did, I wouldn't accept liquor from someone's crotch. Thanks anyway.
*Flashback over* Sorry about that ya'll. I'm still haunted...
But like I said, our seatmates were super polite and our kids were well behaved. After the game, I changed them into their pajamas and they slept on the drive home. Korban fell asleep clutching his pom pon. He woke up as we were transferring him to his bed at home and said "Thank you for Ole Miss," before falling back asleep. Seriously, how cute is that? Also, he slept with the pom pon beside his bed for the next week.
We went to the game last weekend too. It was great because our friends Jason and Dez and their kids Jack and Jakub came too. They are the kind of friends that make everything more fun just with their prescence. Their kids are great with our kids too, and our kids LOVE them. Korban knows their names but usually refers to both of them collectively as "JackandJakub." We're working on that one. We ate before the game and also got to spend some time with Brad's uncle Shane and his family. The kids had a blast. Korban recently started a new anti-anxiety med and it makes him sleepy. We gave it to him before going into the stadium and when we got to our seats, he laid his head in my lap and went to sleep! I was worried, but he perked up when pregame started and did fine during the game. He talks about going to Ole Miss and watching them play every day. He told his teacher about it at school. And he still totes the pom pon around. Like I said, I think we've found his "thing." And we're more than happy to support him in his interests. :)
The game didn't start until 8:00 tonight, so Brad and Jason went by themselves this time. Good decision. Korban was in bed asleep before the game even started. Brad was worried Korban would be upset with him for going without him, but he wasn't. He kept telling me today "Daddy go to Ole Miss. Daddy going to cheer." It was sweet. The kids went to bed early and I have the house to myself. I made a pan of peanut butter and jelly blondies (thank you Pinterest--they were divine!) and I'm watching the game as I type this. Not going exactly like I hoped it would, but I think our team is going to have a good year and I really like Hugh Freeze. No matter what happens this season, I know the Rebels have some seriously cute kids cheering them on! (And Brad looks pretty cute in the Ole Miss cape, dontcha think? ;)