October 5, 2022

conflict #2 - my not-mom-of-the-year moment, bigger person, & a lil tailgate history

We bought tickets for two ND games . . . both had conflicts. My last post explained more about the ticket process, conflict #1, and seeing my Gumby dream become a reality. It's the little things, or in this case the BIG green things. 

Conflict #2:  The reason I took 

BTW - This is the photo I shared
in a prior post to see if anyone
could figure out what this was. 
This is me outside of my car trying
 to take a photo of Gumby smashed
 up against the window because he
 looked so funny. Well, all I got
 was this reflection of me, because it
 was so sunny. My phone is reflecting
 Gumby's mouth. Couldn't repeat this
 photo if I tried. Not that I would
 try. There's art, and then theirs 'oops.' 
Curly and Reg to the Sept 10th game:  they were supposed to attend the game on Oct. 15th with ALL OF US. The whole family, damn it. 

The high school was under construction, so school started Sept 6th vs mid-August. While the homecoming dance has ALWAYS been in September, this year it was pushed back until . . .  Oct. 15th, because of the delayed school start. Oops.  

We're leaving Reg and Curly home to attend the dance. I'll be begging rides off of people, asking people to take photos of them, and making sure everyone's clothes and shoes and flowers are ready to go before we leave. Oh, the lists I need to make.


The Mom Of The Year Contest Judges called, they want me to withdraw my application, understandably so. 


The kids I sit for enjoyed seeing who
could throw a ball in Gumby's mouth.
Because the Oct 15th game is a night game, we ended up getting a costly hotel room in a hotel that is a far cry from the Ritz. Because hotels aren't stupid, reservations can only be made for 2 nights. Cha-ching. Ed is coming to the game with his girlfriend from their school 3 hours south of Notre Dame. Lad is coming. Tank has two friends flying in from Dallas and Omaha. I'm very excited, but a little anxious about leaving 2 kids home when neither of them can drive and one takes anti seizure meds. 

Flashback to late August: initially when questions arose like:  how do we get tickets to a game that we didn't request, like Sept 10th? Or how will we sell tickets to the game that we can't go to anymore, like Sept 17th? - I wondered what games my sister, Marie, was attending. 

I decided to ask Marie which games she was going to. As an ND alum, she can request more tickets than just the 8 that current parents can buy if they have a kid at the school. I also wondered if she was tailgating, but I refused to ask because I didn't want to appear to be begging for an invite - even though, normal families would extend an invite to their family members attending games. 

Me:  Hey Marie. What games are you going to at ND this year?

Marie:  All of them. 

(it might be just me, but I heard this text as if Nellie Olsen, the brat on Little House on the Prairie, herself had spoken it). 

Me (to myself):  ALL OF THEM? 

About 6 hours passed, then Marie texted me to ask what games I planned to attend. I'd bet money that her husband told her to inquire as a friendly gesture, because really - why the delay? 

She didn't invite me to tailgate. I wanted to do my own thing anyway, but at that point I hadn't found a parking pass. I felt like her lack of forthcoming-ness was a clear line drawn in the sand. I told myself that maybe she was just going to the game. Maybe she wasn't tailgating. 


Becky suggested I use one of my
kids' shirts for Gumby.
Um, not gonna fit.
Sept 9th I was busy texting my friend, Becky (Hi BECKY), who was loaning me her step stool that we were inserting between Gumby's legs. She was championing my Gumby efforts - I was giddy with excitement about how my Gumby tailgating beacon was shaping up. I decided to text Marie. 

Look at me - I was the bigger person. 

Sorry, I misspoke. Gumby was clearly the BIGGEST person. 

Me:  Hey, not sure if you're tailgating or not tomorrow, but you're welcome to come to our tailgate. We'll be in the Stadium Lot. Gumby will be on top of our car. 

Marie:  Oh, we will be in Joyce lot (next to Stadium Lot). We will have this flag above our car. (insert photo of a flag like most other people will display, just saying) Kids just got it for me for my birthday. Where are your seats? If I don't see you tailgating, we can meet at half time. 

* flag on top of your car? That's so last year. Green Halloween costumes are all the rage, sis. 

Mini ended up stumbling upon Marie's tailgate before ours. She then came to ours with Elizabeth in tow. Elizabeth is my favorite niece/goddaughter. She's Lad's age and she's Marie's daughter, and she's a hoot, full of spunk, humor, fun - just delightful. 

Elizabeth witnessed Mini break down and cry while at my tailgate, under the watchful eye of Gumby. This happened when my SIL gave her a little 'It'll get better' pep talk. Elizabeth returned to her mom's tailgate and apparently told her that she'd seen Mini cry. Marie showed up to my tailgate a bit later after Mini had moved on with her friends. Marie was full of compassion for Mini. This was a nice gesture. I was my friendly self. Pointed out my funny car decoration, offered her my tasty food, etc. 

Still, what's her beef? I wrote a funny story from 37 years ago. I asked her to urge dad to click over out of courtesy when someone is calling on the other line.  Really? She can't make a peep about her tailgate or inquire if I need help navigating the ND parent stuff? I don't get it. Proud to say I was the bigger person, but my sisters are a piece of work. 


A look back:  In 2014, Coach and I bought tickets to go to a Notre Dame game. We asked three other couples, loaded them all into the Great White. I hadn't realized that tickets were sometimes available to the public through the ticket office. I was tired of relying on my parents to occasionally invite us to use one of their extra tickets. 

I graduated from Saint Mary's College, and as a student I attended all of the games, but only Notre Dame grads are able to be part of the ticket lottery. 

Coach and I were excited to tailgate and socialize with our friends. I had no parking pass though. I hadn't even heard of StubHub. I called my dad to ask him if it was possible for him to get me a parking pass for that one game, since he was an alum.  I was willing to pay for the pass, but I just didn't have any way of scoring one.  

I really didn't have any information on when the ticket lottery happened or how parking passes were doled out. Was it too late? 

Dad:  I have a parking pass for that game already. I requested it in the lottery, but I'm giving it to Marie. I'm surprising her for her birthday. 

I remember vividly this conversation. I was driving home from my kids' final swim meet in late July. My eyes filled with tears. My breath caught in  my throat. My kids in the back seat asked me what was wrong. I just shook my head and glanced at them in the rearview mirror, and assured them 'no big deal.'

Further explanation, because without it his comment really doesn't have context:  

My dad has never, EVER gotten me a birthday gift. Sure, my parents give me something for my birthday. My dad would never have shopped for something specific for me though. I usually get clothes or something else and it's VERY clear that my mom has selected it for me. Not a problem. All normal and acceptable. 

I never batted an eye about the birthday gift process until my father tells me that he bought something for my sister, specifically. To surprise her. For her birthday. She, herself a graduate of Notre Dame, could've probably figured out a way to get a parking pass. She would've had contacts, or information. 

This is a photo from that '15 tailgate . Tank, Mini, and Reg went to the game at the last minute with my sisters I think, because they had extra tickets. They came over to our tailgate to say hi. That is Tank with an N on his belly. Reg (not pictured) had a D on his belly. The taller kid is a nephew on Coach's side who was a freshman at ND at the time, but he looked like he was a freshman in high school. 

In a Google search, I discovered StubHub. I paid $435 for a parking pass for this one game with our friends. Yep. I did. 

At the game, we walked over to where my sisters (because of course Marie brought Ann) were tailgating. My dad forgot to let ND know that he didn't want a handicapped lot ticket for this specific game. He and my mom had parked in the handicapped lot in recent years. My sisters were in the handicapped lot. There wasn't a lot of tailgating going on.

My friends:  well, glad we ended up over where we are, because it's way more happening by the Great White than it is over in this lot. 

The morale of the story - sometimes we gotta do things our own way, if that means mount Gumby on top of your car, have a kid attend ND for next to nothing after your father has suggested that she attend Saint Mary's to find a husband, or surround yourself with friends who treat you right - then 

Any fun stuff you've done that may have eliminated you from the running as mother of the year, or have you paid way more than necessary for something and ended up totally happy that you did? Any great 'bigger person' stories to share? Do tell. 


Nicole said...

Well I'm glad that 2014 tailgate worked out - even if it was expensive. Sorry your feelings were hurt though. Ugh.
How is Mini doing now? Is she settling in?

ccr in MA said...

I know I've said this before, but your parents and sisters just make me roll my eyes. Why are they like that? I know, a question without an answer, but I just don't understand.

Pat Birnie said...

Wow -that’s a heck of a price to pay for a parking pass! Glad it was worthwhile. Before I even read the words “a piece of work”, that’s what was running through my mind. What the heck is their problem. I enjoyed picturing their sadass tailgate party compared to yours. Was confused at first about who Kelly was but I think that was a ‘her real name’ slip. I hope Mini’s situation is improving.

Jenny in WV said...

I didn't get a chance to leave a comment on Monday's post (computer was being difficult), but I have to say Gumby is an awesome mascot! You need to use him at all future tailgates!

I went to a small school for undergrad, so tailgating wasn't really a thing. I had no idea it was so complicated (or pricey!!), add it the family drama and wow! you deserve a big pat on the back!

Ernie said...

Nicole - It was a great time back in 2014. It is very fun to be able to do tailgating for 4 years while Mini is there. She was still upset back Sept 10th weekend, but has settled in nicely - as I believed that she would. She likes a number of girls in her dorm, and has gotten a few good grades. Better to feel like your hard work is paying off, than having to dig yourself out of a hole.

Ernie said...

Pat - That was a slip up - I fixed it. ;)

You made my day with 'sadass tailgate'. Very funny. Yep, that pricetag for a parking pass was nuts, but at the time it was my way of feeling independent and that alone was lifegiving. Do my own damn thing without them. It was awesome that we had a blast with some enjoyable friends.

Oh my goodness, Mini has been doing so, so much better. She has a smaller group of friends - although, she'd still prefer an even smaller group. The group she hangs with is about 12. She has gotten some decent grades, so I think the academic part has become less stressful because she sees that she can do it.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Gumby is a riot. So happy that I've found a way to repurpose him. As we speak he is on the deck drying. I painted a new shirt for him. Wardrobe change for this weekends tailgate at Ed's school. Even Coach has gotten on board/seen the light of how entertaining Gumby is.

Tailgating is super fun, even more so when you feel like you belong there and have a reason for going all out.

Not sure if I mentioned, Marie told Mini at the last game (we weren't there) that she isn't tailgating Oct 15th and we are. Mini invited her to ours. All fine, but I hope she at some point consdiers what a crackpot she was for not extending an invitation to us or reaching out in anyway. Fortunately I have other women in my life who I count as 'sisters'. Sisters from another mister, I gues. ;)

Nance said...

Let me just say that I completely understand, on a personal level, The Parent Thing. And when I was thrust into the role of caregiver for each one, the Irony was crushing. Still is.

Have your fun! Do it your way and focus on your husband and kids. As you know already, they are your Joy.

Ally Bean said...

I don't know that I could ever spend that kind of money on a parking pass, so I am in awe. As for you and your ongoing sibling experiences, beats me what's up with them. Maybe you could declare yourself an only child, kind of like an emancipated minor, and move on. An idea! 😉

Ernie said...

Nance - I feel like The Parent Thing is fairly rare, so I do appreicate that you get my frustrations with it. I can only imagine how crushing it was to be the caregiver.

Good advice. Tank is flying home today from college. He'll be home for the week. Then Mini will be home the following week. I'm looking forward to that and the two tailgating dates we have planned. They sure are my joy and they see things clearly too.

Ernie said...

Ally - I never would have dreamt that I would've spent that much on a parking pass either. It was crazy. Only child. Ha. That would be interesting.

Kara said...

I have to admit, I don't understand tailgating. College sports weren't big where I grew up. You can't really tailgate for a Red Sox game, because you can't park near the park. Plus it seems like a lot of people need to use port-a-potties, and that's not my bag. But it looks like a lot of fun when I see it on TV!

I'm sorry your family of origin is terrible. But luckily, you have a great spouse and kids.

Ernie said...

Kara - I'm dying at portapotties not being your bag. Are they anyone's bag? Because if so, what else are those people into. ;)

I will say that the pricey lots at the Notre Dame games are close enough to the Joyce Center - where they play basketball, etc. The indoor, very clean, very nice bathrooms are open and available during tailgating. I didn't go during our tailgate, which was a struggle. I didn't want to walk away and miss any of the fun, or walk away and miss meeting any of Mini's friends.

As I loaded the car to drive to Ed's college to tailgate, I was thinking that this is really a strange thing to do. Bring food and drink to enjoy out in the grass in all kinds of weather, but yet - here we are. Quite literally.

My family of origin. I will say that I think, or I hope, that I've made it my mission not to be completely thoughtless when it comes to my offspring. I enjoy each of them individually. They are all different. So, that's my upside to all of it. My kid asks me some day for a parking pass when I have one in mind for another kid? I go to hell and back to get another parking pass. Not all that complicated to me.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I don't care what you say; you will still earn a Mother Of The Year award! You juggle all of them and their activities and they ALL know they are loved!

Your sisters are something special and I don't mean in the good way. :(

The Look-Back with your Dad. I can see why that would hurt extra. *sigh* I belive he has NO clue as to how it affects you at all....right? Some people are clueless to other people's emotions.

Still I'm Gumby Dammit wins the Tailgating prize!!

Ernie said...

Suz - You are too kind. The kids really didn't care whether or not I was here for the dance. They were glad I didn't make them come along to ND with us. The look on the face of Curly's new friend's mom, whose twin brother asked Curly to the homecoming dance - the girl's twin not the mom's twin ;0 . . . , when I told her that we'd be out of town for hoco . . . well, let's just say some people take these dances a bit serious. Her first time with high school kids, so she's excited I guess.

My sisters are quite the pair.

After I wrote this post, I told Coach - imagine if two of our kids wanted a ticket to something and we only had the one ticket. I would move heaven and earth to get another ticket. Not that complicated. You are right. My dad is unaware of how his actions or words impact other people. I guess we call that thoughtless.

Gumby posed for more photos taken by strangers again over the weekend. He's so funny, damn it.