For the first time in their lives, our boys are living in the shadow of their’s dad’s public profile. I know that may sound odd, but they were born in a town of 7,000 and with a super busy dad, we have made it a point to get out and about and participate in as many town events as possible. Since they have a very social Mama, our boys were able to meet a variety of people. Since they are quick to make friends their social circle stretched pretty broadly. Top this with having been in the same small elementary school for their whole lives where teachers care about the kids and get to know them, and it’s easy to understand how kids can grow up believing everyone around them knows them.
Since our move and our insanely busy schedule, we have met A LOT of people. But we live in a larger area there are many more people to meet! The college has worked hard to promote the change in football with not only a press conference, newspaper, and blog blitz but a tv commercial. These things have given the public a sense of comfort in knowing who we are, but it is obviously one-sided. One thing we are not quite used to is people approaching our boys and speaking to them, and knowing their names. One of our kiddos has become quite shy, and I think for him, in particular, it is nerve-wracking when he has no idea who is speaking to him and yet they seem to know a lot about him.
One thing I will say about living in the south is that I have no doubt those who choose to speak to our boys are doing so politely. They always approach them when they are with me and find kind words to include in the conversation. That takes effort and in the south, if you aren’t welcome, they will let you know.
As a parent, I’ve tried to help my kids maneuver this situation with grace and caution. Of course, we have talked extensively about stranger danger. We have also talked about how everything we say and every way we act represents our family and our college. These coach’s kids know to extend a firm handshake, smile and respond while looking someone in the eye. They also know that beyond a hello they don’t need to answer any questions they don’t want to and can ask to be excused from the conversation. We have blessed that our President is a former pastor’s kid. He’s been so sensitive to help make sure the boys are comfortable in all public situations even going too far as to clean out the treehouse in his backyard so they would have a “hideout” during certain events.
As our kiddos get older, I think this is a subject I am increasingly sensitive about. Our current stadium has a press box we can hang out in if needed and we have chosen to live slightly more removed from campus than previously. I’m hoping to help create a sense of normalcy outside of college life, but still, make sure we support our coach in every way we can. When everyone knows your dad life is challenging. We’re trying to make the best decisions we can for our kids so they will feel the freedom to pursue their own interests.