I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Life Lessons from the Melbourne Demons

Early on in our dating life, DH took me along to see an Australian Rules football game. It's nothing at all like American football - mostly because these guys don't wear any padding (unless they are padding their shorts, but perhaps that's another story altogether). It's literally a bunch of sweaty guys running a whole lot across a really, really big oval and kicking a ball from end to end.  They're also trying to play a huge game of 'keep away' at the same time, while wearing nothing but shorts, a sleeveless top, and shoes/socks. DH has loved the game (and his team) since he was a child, and so I really had no choice but to get to know the game and get to love the team (neither which are terribly hard to do.) The good news is he isn't much of a cricket fan, so at least I did not need to work out the rules of that game - which are pretty much like reading a Chinese instruction manual when you're only fluent in Klingon, but I digress.

While I won't claim to be a massive fan of footy (or any other) sport, I do enjoy going with him to the games, and besides it would be terribly un-Australian of me not to go. Australians as a whole (and Victorians in particular) are sport-hysterical. It's a religion, it's a way of life, it's a "if you don't like sport we will burn you at the stake" sort of situation. Sport in general and football in specific are as much a part of the culture here as the kangaroos and the Vegemite. It's just how it is, so in the spirit of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," I tend to go along  with DH for the ride.

Now that the kids are older (and no, they didn't get a choice of which team to support, either) they come along with DH and I and it becomes a whole family outing. This past weekend we went to a game together, and as I was sitting there in the stands (alternating between getting a sunburn and getting frostbite -- another distinctly Melbourne thing) I started to think about how footy, and being a footy fan, is teaching my kids some invaluable life lessons:

1) It's not over until it's over, so don't give up so easily: Victorians have a habit of leaving a game in the last quarter (before the game is over) if they think the outcome is predictable. Or even if it's not, they just want to get the hell out of the car park. Look at the stands about 10 minutes into the 4th quarter and it's like some sort of mass exodus. DH's rule is that you have to stay to the bitter end. It's not over until that final siren goes, and let me tell you - plenty of games have changed dramatically in the final seconds of a game. Life lesson here is obvious: don't give up until they've blown the final siren, you never know what might happen.

2) Loyalty. When I met DH, our team wasn't doing so well. When I was pregnant with the triplets, I took them (in utero) to their first football game, which was a Grand Final. These days, our team is back to pretty sad form (although working on it) - but it makes no difference to us. You've got to support them through winning, through losing, and through everything in between. I think the same is true for many aspects of life, you can't just run with the cool kids all the time because the cool kids won't be cool all the time. There is a lot to be said just for sticking by through the thick and thin.

3) Nothing stays the same: Like in #1, the entire outcome of a game can change in seconds. Shit happens. Sometimes good shit, sometimes bad shit - but expect the unexpected (hello,St Kilda with that 2nd go at the Grand Final.....) and learn to deal with it. Nothing ever stays the same.

4) You can be passionate without being a dickhead - I'm sometimes appalled at the behaviour of people in the stands at football games. I get it that you're passionate, I get it that your team sucks or is awesome, I get it that you hate everyone on the field except the guy with the ball - but seriously? No need to be a jerk. Really. Same is true on any other playing field - in love, in life, in business. Kindness matters.

5) Sometimes we do things in life just because other people want us to: At least 2 of my kids are not footy fans at all. They're bored, they're tired, they don't understand the rules, they would rather be anywhere but sitting in those cold bleachers. I drag them along anyway. Sometimes we just do things which make other people happy - which frankly, is just called being a nice person.

6) If all else fails, go for the food. I swear to god, I love living in this country just for the taste experience of being at the football with 50,000+ other people, and eating a hot meat pie drowning in tomato sauce (and I won't even call it ketchup.) I gave up vegetarianism the very day I hit Australian shores (true story) and there is not a single moment I regret it, especially at footy games.

...and lastly....one of the best things one can do when one is thrust into the culture which is not their own can be summed up in this one phrase, which is: "When in Rome..." That's why you'll see me in the stands, beanie and scarf on, pie in hand, yelling Australian expressions which I don't entirely understand but I THINK mean something good and inspirational for our team.

So much in life can be learned from a good (or even bad, how would I know?) game of Aussie Rules.
Go the Dees!

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