The Thirty-something Pledge

Each week, contributor and new parent Joey will post his thoughts as he undergoes the transformation from fanboy to father.

So I don’t think I’ve ever missed being to my seats at Kenan for a kickoff. If I’m going to the game, it’s just planned that we leave our tailgate in enough time to get to our seats before the kick. Most of the time, we’re there to see the team come out of the tunnel, but definitely by the time the opening kick is in the air.

I willingly jeopardized that this past weekend.

We got a late start up to the stadium. After a great tailgate of an old-fashioned pig-pickin’, it took a while to shut everything down. Nonetheless, our group meandered hurriedly through Kenan toward our seating section. We’d already been cut off by security as they escorted some hosted recruits to their seats. But none of those things actually made me late to my seat.

You see, as I walked toward our section, I stopped and waited for two people who were ever-so-slowly creeping past to find where their seats were. I patiently waited with a bashful grin on my face as a father and his barely-walking son ambled by. As dad and the little guy bumbled by, it dawned on me that I’d stopped because I noticed that it was another young father. It was a yield of respect, reverence and admiration.

“Because this is a very big idea my friends. We’re talking about a non-exclusive egalitarian brotherhood where community status and more importantly age have no bearing whatsoever.” – Bernard “Beanie” Campbell

That’s been my most recent revelation from fatherhood: I’ve unknowingly joined a fraternity, long after undergrad. I’m a member of Delta Alpha Delta…and my brothers are all fathers. This encounter on the aisle at Kenan just enlightened me to my membership in this club.

At this realization, further evidence of my inclusion began to flood into my mind: I realized that most of my discussions nowadays with buddies of mine (if they have kids), immediately turn to fatherhood. When I see another dad now, I’m apt to give the same head nod I used to give to acquaintances on campus (You know the one…the “Sup” head nod you give to one of your boys when you want to acknowledge him, but don’t have time to talk). My first reaction to any invite for a social activity immediately turns to whether or not the wife needs me home to watch the kid. You get the picture.

The kicker is, membership in this group actually has a pretty vast array of intangible benefits. There’s a certain innate bond that while I may never need or use it, now exists between myself and all the other guys who have ventured into real fatherhood. And the biggest takeaway I think I’ll ever get from my inclusion in this club is simple: nomatter what happens while I’m raising this little girl, regardless of the challenge, independent of how catastrophic some things may seem, there’s another guy who’s in the same boat. There’s another father somewhere who has faced the same challenge. The one thing that all new parents learn; like a quarterback facing a live blitz for the first time, you don’t know what it’s like until you’ve been there. While I may miss a kickoff/tipoff every now and then, I also know there’ll be another member of the fraternity who’s probably lagging on the concourse, and late too…and that’s okay.

Now, if only I could call on one of them to cover for me on the 5AM diaper change…

About Joey

While I cannot say lifelong (thanks, Dad), I am a long-time Tar Heel fan, '01 UNC grad, and consider myself just as passionate and knowledgable as the next guy. My wife, also a UNC alum, and I recently became first-time parents. I'm going to attempt to chronicle my personal struggle to come to grips with going from mouth-breathing Fanboy to only-somewhat-crazy Fan-Dad. The thoughts I share in this space are my own...though they may be heavily influenced by a lack of sleep.
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