Earlier this year, I became a father for the first time. My little girl was born on the 23rd of February and I could not be a prouder dad if I tried. Everything she does is magic to me, no matter what it is right now. Even changing her diapers...look, she's the best thing that has or will ever happen to me.
However, like I imagine every dad does, I have one eye on the future and that eye is laden with worry. She has two good looking parents, so there's no way that she doesn't turn out pretty which means I'm going to be having to deal with boys from whenever the hell they start these days (Based on my little sister's words, they start getting friendly at about 9, 10 now). I worry about how growing up between mine and her mother's house for her entire life is going to affect her. I only live 15 minutes away from her mum and I will be the best dad I possibly can be but I'm still worried. I'm scared that her mum will meet and marry another guy who steals my place in her heart. But most of all, I'm scared that somehow I'll do something to ruin our relationship in any way to the point where she hates me. I have a lot of issues with my mother to this day and I would be lying if I didn't admit I made some of my worse decisions based on getting her mad. I don't want my daughter to do the same.
When her mum was about 4 months in, we had a joke about teams given that she goes for the Lakers and her dad has been a Bengals fan since the Boomer Esiason days.
I told her "if we have a boy, he can go for whoever he likes. But if we have a girl she goes for my teams. End of story." Soon as we found the sex out I ordered a Raiders bib/bootie set and onesie (and the same for the Nets and Kings).
I said this simply because I know, watching my dad and my sister, how hard it is for fathers (Especially single dads) to bond with their daughters and especially when they get older. I want us to always be able to share a love of sports and certain teams no matter what. (I'm working this fatherhood thing out as I go).
So since she was spending some time with me last Saturday, it was time for her first Raider game. I got her all dressed up (I don't share photos of her on the Internet or I'd post one - but needless to say she was beyond cute), Daddy put on his newest Raider acquisition (a Howie Long throwback I found at the market downtown for $50 a few weeks back) and we sat down to watch.
Did she like it? I don't know. She giggled along and started participating in fist bumps with me every time she saw me jumping around when we did something right. Then again she also giggled when I unleashed expletives at Betamax for his coverage or when Carson threw that near pick-six. And she cried when Carmona hit that 53 yard FG to let me know that it was bottle time.
As much as anything, though, I want her to learn the Raider Way. Or at the very least, what I believe is the Raider Way.
I want her to learn to judge people on who they are, not what they look like or may have once done.
I want her to respect and be proud of her unique heritage.
I want her to grow into a strong, independent woman who can not only survive but thrive in this fucked up world that we've created.
And above all, I want her to always be herself and to never take anybody's shit.
This is what I believe to be the Raider Way, and it's why I'm proud to bring my daughter up as a Raider fan.
(P.S. I've left out the all-night parties with Hells Angels/Black Panthers and the numerous one night stands because both her parents will be fighting that battle for the next 21 years. Honestly, it's a losing battle if genes count for anything. Her mum's nickname throughout the hood was No Wonder Bra because of her habit of removing her shirt after consuming a drop of alcohol and not putting it back on after several rounds of tequila slammers. As for me, well...the less she learns about my youth the better).