Green and Gold Family This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 29, 2010
By
The buttery aroma of fresh popcorn wafted on the sweet spring breeze. I squirmed in the cement seat. The anticipation in the air coursed through my body, energizing every fiber of my being. As I looked out over the freshly painted field, I knew I was on sacred ground. The glistening sod was a ­battlefield dominated by great men of the past and present. Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr, Reggie White, and Brett Favre had all thrived on this famous, frozen tundra. As my gaze drifted to the names and numbers of five legendary players enshrined around the stadium, a cool breeze snaked its way up the back of my neck. I couldn’t help but feel these players had joined the green and gold faithful in cheering on the home team.

My family and I had taken a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to watch a Packers game. The whole trip was time for us to bond as a family, but as I sat in my concrete seat, waiting for the players to emerge from the tunnel for warm-ups, I began to contemplate the snarled web of emotions that formed our family dynamic.

My mother and I had never gotten along well; our personalities simply did not mesh. We walked on ­opposite sides of the street on many issues, family-related or not. It seemed that this situation had grown worse in the last five months; arguments over college, money, work, friends, and family were frequent and heated. More often than not, we separated with anger and resentment still smoldering in our hearts.

I was entering my senior year of high school! Why couldn’t my mom just allow me to be my own person and responsible for my actions? I longed to be more independent.

Movement and a flash of gold caught my attention, and my eyes snapped to the tunnel. I leapt to my feet and added my voice to the thunderous roar as fans welcomed the two teams to Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills began their onfield preparations for that night’s game. Since I was a kid, I had dreamed of watching the Packers play at Lambeau, and I was thrilled to be sitting in the front row at the 50-yard line! Granted, we were on the Buffalo side, but that didn’t matter.

I will always remember that night as the experience of a lifetime. I rooted on my team with the loudest of the fans, booed the other team just as fervently, and even pitched in a few phrases when my fellow cheeseheads razzed the Buffalo players on the sideline. Unfortunately, I lost my voice sometime during the second quarter, and I grudgingly resigned myself to the role of quiet observer. Despite this setback, I still pumped my fists and waved my arms enthusiastically as the Packers rolled to a 24 to 0 lead at halftime, eventually winning the game 31 to 21.

Even now, several months later, I can still vividly recall the sharp cracking sound as shoulder pads and helmets collided. The gruff commands from the quarterback and the moon rising over the stadium lights like a shimmering pool of crystal will forever be ingrained in my mind. Despite these and many other vibrant memories from Lambeau, there is one that will always stand head-and-shoulders above the rest: the lessons Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers taught me about family.

When I lost my voice, the Packers were comfortably ahead and my mind began to wander back to my family. Perhaps it was the cold air, or Ray Nitschke’s spirit, but for some reason I began to see my family like a football team. The Packers are a team that can effectively function together to achieve desired goals, just as a family must work together to maintain peace within the household. Each player simply cannot run around and do whatever he wants; if this happened, the team would have no discipline or order, and would lose the majority of its games. I realized that this same principle applies to my family life as well. Even though I longed to cast aside the restrictive mantle that was my parents’ loving guidance, I began to understand the need for cooperation within our family. My parents were the head coaches, and I needed to accept my role as a player instead of trying to usurp their authority. In that moment, I decided to swallow my rebellious ego, and try to create peace within my family.

Lambeau Field is an incredible place. The rectangular sod and the majestic stadium surrounding it represent all the hopes and dreams of Packer Nation. Making the pilgrimage to this sacred place is an avenue of escape that unites people across the country under the banner of green and gold. Despite the unforgettable experiences I encountered here, I am most thankful for the realization that changed my attitude toward my family. I learned to appreciate them instead of resisting them. Ray Nitschke would be proud.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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