Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mascots have parents, too

I grew up going to Phillies games. A lot. The part I hated the most was having to take a nap the afternoon prior to the evening game. Long after I was too old for naps, I had to go to my room "just for a little rest" so that I could stay up for the game. Yeah, I think I usually fell asleep during those "rests." I also disliked having to dress up to go to the games. Did people really do that way back when or was that just my family? I don't know but I didn't like it.

I also wasn't really into the games. I always had a book with me, though, and it was a great place to finish a story or two. Until that time a foul ball hit the empty sit right next to me. That was a wake up call. I learned to keep one eye on the game and one eye on the book after that too-close-for-comfort incident.

I did have a favorite player but only because my brother had one. And because he picked Mike Schmidt, I had to pick Greg Luzinski. Surprisingly, I knew a lot about my favorite player. I knew he wasn't as good as my brother's favorite player, but I was pretty used to that kind of second place feeling. I liked The Bull all the way until my dad just happened upon him in an airport once. In response to, "You're my daughter's favorite player," he just grunted and walked away. Fan no more.

So when the Phillie Phanatic was created (born?) in the late 70s, I ditched that whole favorite player thing and turned my ballgame attention to the big green mascot who got cool things like four wheelers for his birthday. Later, the Phanatic's mother appeared on the scene, looking equally green and being just as fun to watch.

Who knew that 30+ years later I'd find myself sitting at football games, again with eyes only for the mascot (but with my book at home). This mascot couldn't stick out his tongue, is not known for wiggling his butt at the opponent, and did not receive a four wheeler for his birthday even though his birthday did fall on the night of a game and he did ask for said gift.

It was during one of those football games probably three years ago, as I was watching the mascot and daydreaming during the rest of the game, that I got a great idea. Better than great, it was probably the best idea I've ever had. Just as the Phanatic has a mother, and just as she shows up during special occasions, wouldn't it be fun for King Kat's mother to show up on a special occasion? And his father, too? And wouldn't it be great if it just happened to be senior recognition night? And wouldn't it be even better if it was a total surprise for the Wildcat?

I shared the idea with the rest of the family and we all kept it a secret, waiting til the mascot became a senior and this year it happened. We asked the cheerleading coach if we could borrow the two old costumes. We told her that we would like to wear them, add a dress to mine and a suit coat to The Good Doctor's (we knew we could likely borrow the set that the homecoming mascots wore), and surprise King Kat when it was our turn to escort him during senior recognition.  She loved the idea but had to ask the higher-ups.

Now, just as I have preserved the identity of King Kat in this blog, I am going to preserve the identity of the high school's assistant athletic director who apparently has never seen the Phillie Phanatic with his Phanatic mother, who seemingly has little understanding of school spirit, possibly has little creative ability, and who has no idea that most of the fans at the high school's football games do not come for the game, but rather, like me, to see the antics of the mascot.

Since we only know that he refused the request, and we do not know his reasons, we can only surmise. Being married to a counselor, I've gotten pretty good at figuring out the psychological reasons behind someone's actions so I have a feeling that the unnamed assistant athletic director must have had some type of childhood trauma with a mascot. It happens. King Kat has had to learn to navigate the world of children who cry or scream when he approaches. Birthday clowns deal with this all the time. It would be understandable, then, that if not one, not two, but three Wildcats showed up next week, it could take a person such as this over the edge. It's okay, Mr. Assistant Athletic Director, we understand. If this is the problem, there is no need to be embarrassed and I'm certain The Good Doctor could refer you to someone able to deal with that type of phobia. In fact, if you set up an appointment for Monday, you might be able to get over this phobia by next Friday and we could still keep the persona of the King Kat safe. He could still have King Kat parents rather than human ones. Just like the Phillie Phantatic doesn't have human parents (duh!), King Kat could be introduced with his kind.

Or, it is possible that the unnamed assistant athletic director tried creativity once upon a time. Emphasis on once. And it is possible that it was a traumatic experience. It is possible that somewhere in elementary school, before he became the high school jock, he had an interest in writing. He was assigned a story and he wrote that story, going well past the 1-2 pages assigned and instead created to his heart's content, finally turning in 4 glorious pages of creativity. But alas, the teacher returned that paper with more red marks than the original pencil marks used to pen the tale. His creativity was shot down. Subconsciously he vowed never to allow a creative idea to pass his mind, or athletic director's desk, again. Instead, he would turn to athletics where the game plan is straight forward and creativity is non-existant. He would create a world around him void of creativity and he would, one day, attain a position of importance where he could squash any and all attempts at creativity that were brought to his attention. It's okay. There's healing for that type of wounding, too. The Good Doctor just happens to also be a pastor as well as a counselor.

But that's all supposition and we certainly don't want to start rumors about the unnamed assistant athletic director so please do not go around telling people that he has a mascot phobia or elementary school traumas. That would be unwise and premature and that is between the unnamed assistant director and his healer of choice, protected by HIPAA and never to be known by Wildcats the world over.

Instead, I ask you to use your imagination next week. Conjure up all the school spirit you have so that when King Kat is announced, you can see three Wildcats in the place of one Wildcat and two humans who just happened to claim it as their child.

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