3:30 PM ET, November 30, 2013
Jordan-Hare Stadium, AUBURN, AL
For non-football fans: the above grid represents a spectacular upset in college football, and an opportunity to practice royal parenting.
Alabama and Auburn were tied at 28-28 in the fourth quarter. Bama’s coach went for a field goal in the final seconds, literally, seconds, of the game. Auburn’s quarterback returned the missed field goal in an unbelievable run of 109 yards to a touchdown, and earned the best day of his life thus far and the win for Auburn.
I saw this last play because the prince called me in. An Alabama fan, he was sure he was inviting me to watch the Crimson Tide wash Auburn down the drain. When instead the unthinkable happened, the prince flipped OUT. This is a placid kid, a quieter, thinking kid. Oh, he can be loud, but he’s never mouthy or disrespectful or dramatic. But in this instance: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!” he raged, and ran upstairs, slamming his bedroom door. Me, I’m thinking, “are you kidding me?” Because these types of things just don’t happen in the royal quarters; we operate with a bit more decorum, even if the decor around here is White Trash circa 1996.
So at the base of the stairs I called up, “I’d like to see you in ten minutes down here, please.” He was down shortly and had a seat at the kitchen table, on the verge of angry tears. I told him that if this was his home team, maybe. If he had not gotten into his first choice college, maybe. If he’d asked a girl to prom and she’d said “no,” maybe. But that Alabama’s loss did not have a great enough impact on his life for him to upset the entire household with his anger (now the entire household at that moment was just him, me, a dog, and two cats but whatever). “You have to learn to modulate your reaction. I know it was disappointing, but for bigger disappointments, you won’t have the option to take a sledgehammer to someone’s temple– so you have to control how you react and be mindful of the people around you. If you had let out a loud and mighty curse I think I would have been ok with that, but we do not slam doors here. Understood?” He smirked a sad smirk and acquiesced. “Go chill out for a bit, ok?” And he did. And he was fine. And the lesson was learned. Cue music.
It’s hard to do this, whether “this” is being the clown or being a 13 year old prince. How to live and what it means is like a math problem that takes four days to solve; the prince looks to me because I’m on day two and my paper is covered with pencil scratches, but until day four I’m just as clueless. Or as Kurt Vonnegut said: “Don’t look at me, I just got here myself.”