July 20, 2014

Tethered by Twelvedom

Why are you a Twelve?

For many people, it's a simple matter of geography and proximity. For others, it might be because a certain season or player that captured their attention and refused to let go. For some, it's because of an emotional connection forged in childhood. In my case, it was a potent cocktail of all three. I've written about my origin myth as a Twelve before... If you don't feel like clicking over to those links, here's a key passage (updated a bit since it was originally written):

For many of us, this thing goes back a long way. Maybe it goes all the way back to when your Dad put you in Seahawks onesie? Maybe your Uncle took you to a game when you were six? Maybe your Mom let you decorate the living room in Seahawks finery and watched the games with you, just so you'd have it in common?

Once that ball started skipping down the field like an onside kick, maybe other things in your life stuck to it. Great memories and painful ones too, and you could relate them either directly or indirectly to the Seahawks. For me, I vividly remember watching Steve Largent break the "consecutive games with a catch" record in a hospital room, visiting my sister after my nephew's birth back in '86. Thankfully, everyone else in the room wanted that game on nearly as much as I did. The Seahawks weren't a DISTRACTION to the blessed event; They enhanced it. 

So first loves, heartbreaks, and dates with your sweetie also get all tangled up in blue and green. The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl is even more satisfying because the person you love witnessed it with you. You might not talk to your father for nearly a decade, but if he called you tomorrow you could probably talk about the Hawks.

I don't have a relationship with my Dad anymore, but most of the good memories I have of spending time with him growing up are linked to the Seahawks. I have great relationships with my Mom, my Stepdad, and much-younger brother, and a great big hunk of that connective tissue is bright Seahawks green. 

So it's not just a game or merely a hobby. It's twisted up with everything else that matters like strands of DNA.

I'm utterly obsessed with the Seattle Seahawks for a lot of complicated reasons. They're the one thing I can always talk to my relatives about when I go home to visit. They've been a comforting constant in my life as everything else was torn down and rebuilt over and and over again. When the Hawks finally hoisted the Lombardi Trophy barely a month after I finally started living my life authentically, it felt like they waited to win it all until I could celebrate that ultimate victory as a content, hopeful woman, rather than a sad, forlorn "guy."

(Oh, if you are totally confused at this point, go read this.)

There's one lone area of my life where I haven't yet been able to live authentically yet, and it's with my kids. My son is 8 and my daughter is 4, and while they've undoubtedly noticed a lot of changes in me, I'm not yet officially "out" to them. That will change this upcoming week, and I'm terrified and excited and nervous and anxious to lay down this burden. Everything that I've read about others' experiences coming out to children at those ages, as well as my own gut feelings, suggests that after a period of adjustment everything will probably be fine. That rational knowledge doesn't make this any easier, though. While I'm a bit concerned about my daughter's reaction, I'm more worried about how my son will take it. He's at the age where gender distinctions are getting more rigid in his mind. I've noticed that he occasionally says things along the lines of "Boys rule! Girls drool!" I check him on that whenever he does it around me, but it makes me fret that he may take my transition as some sort of personal betrayal of "Team Boy" or something.  

The GREAT news is that he and I have a lot in common. We both love Cosmos, MythBusters, Mario Kart, Pixar movies, and They Might Be Giants, among other things (my next personal mission is to get him hooked on "Weird Al" Yankovic). My Dad and I had no real emotional connection- It's not that way with my son and I. He knows that I love him, and that's a good start.

My experience in becoming a Twelve has instructed how I've presented my Seahawks fandom to my children. Yeah, I've bought them Seahawks gear since birth, and I've taught them about our team's history and culture, but I've never tried (or wanted to) to force-feed them the idea that they HAVE TO become Seahawks fans. My father tried to make me a boxer, a stock-car racing fan, and a fisherman. How did any of that work out? I want my kids to be 12s, but I want them to CHOOSE to don the blue, green and wolf grey.

There was a moment recently that filled my heart with ecstatic joy. My kids were in Orlando with their Mom. My Mom, Dad and brother happened to be there at the same time. They met up, and my Mom sent me a picture of her with my son. He was wearing a Seahawks' "Super Bowl XLVIII Champions" shirt. I didn't buy that for him. Yeah, I bought him a Wilson jersey last year, but that's about it in terms of the Hawks gear I've gotten for him recently. I asked my Mom if she got it for him- She said she didn't. Apparently he pestered his Mom to get it for him! It hit me: He's a Twelve. At 8 years old, the same age I was when the Spirit of 12 entered me, my son is an actual-factual TWELVE! The symmetry is incredibly pleasing to me, and my fervent hope is to get him to a Seahawks game this season (or, if not this year, in 2015 when the Hawks visit Cincinnati).

My even more fervent hope is that just as the Seahawks provided an emotional link between my father and I, they will help (in some small way) as my kids adjust to my transition and the new reality that their Dad's a girl. One BIG thing I want to get across to them when I "come out" later this week is continuity: While some things are changing (particularly how I look), the important things (who I am, how much I love them) are going to remain the same. To express this symbolically idea in some small way, I'm going to wear something familiar to them, that they've seen me wearing all their lives: Seahawks gear.

Hopefully, it will go smoothly this week, and sooner rather than later the three of us will be sitting down to watch the Seahawks together. In my vision of the future, Twelvedom will be just one of myriad things I share with my kids- But it will be a particularly important one.

Why am I a Twelve?

Because Twelving gives me a feeling of connection, community and continuity. Because Twelving will indirectly help me get through this week, like it's helped me survive all the previous tribulations in my life. Because once I share it my adoration of the Seahawks with people I love, it ceases to be "only a game." It becomes the closest thing I'll ever have to a religious faith in my life.

What do you think, sirs?


Jody Davis said...

So well written and with heart. You're kids Love You and that won't stop. And you've already got a better relationship with them than you did with your dad. So congratulate yourself for showing them your true self! In the long run that will help them in life. You can do this, and I'll be praying!

Eric Flatness said...

I'm a 12 because they are Seattle's team. If it had been the Seattle Jaguars, nothing would be different (except that we wouldn't have a Lombardi to celebrate!)

Terry Sinclair said...

Crap, You did it again.(he says as he wipes the tears from his face)!I have to say I hope all goes well with the kids.

Sammy said...

I became a 12 because of proximity; where I grew up. I AM a 12 because I never stopped being one. I put my kids in Seahawks gear also, but one never became a sports fan and the other found other teams to root for. To the latter's credit, he didn't jump on the bandwagon, and he was very happy for me as a fan.