This is a first for us. Shoot, it might be a first for any parent with a young child. Here we are, just 28 days until 2013, and Kaitlyn wishes that it was not December at all. Most kids love December, if for no other reason that it signals Christmas is almost here, but not this year for Kaitlyn. She is still excited for Christmas, but she is conflicted because once Christmas is over, it means that the year is about over.
I guess I should back up just a little bit here. This season was the first season that Kaitlyn was really in to watching FSU football. We made it to a few games, and watched the rest on TV, and when we could not watch, we listened on the radio. For the games we went to, we had access to a pre-game hospitality area, and Kaitlyn made sure to bring her free game program from there into the stadium. She would browse the articles and check out the stats, and she always made sure to find her two favorite players, Dustin Hopkins and EJ Manuel. I guess if I were going to list them in order of her favorite, EJ should have been first, because she “adopted” Dustin as a favorite because I happen to be a big fan.
This past Saturday, we were watching the ACC Championship Game on TV, and Kaitlyn made sure to have her program with her so that she could keep track of her favorites and the rest of the Noles. She spotted WR Kelvin Benjamin in the background of one shot, and nonchalantly said so. There is no denying that she loves the Noles.
Which brings me to the source of the problem. We have had to explain to her a few times this season that EJ and Dustin are seniors, and that they will not play for the Noles after this season, but we can cheer for them in the NFL. She seemed OK with that. Until this morning. This morning, she was all upset because she realized that New Year’s Day is 28 days away, and New Year’s Day is also the day of the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl will be EJ and Dustin’s last game in garnet and gold. And Kaitlyn is not happy about that at all. To her, they are her friends, and she is going to miss them next season. She wants them to stay at FSU and keep playing so that she can watch them on Saturdays. It is adorable how much she is attached to them. The impact that EJ and Dustin had on her back in May and again in August is almost unbelievable; she feels like the most special little girl in the world because both of them paid attention to her, interacted with her, and remembered her.
I remain impressed with both EJ and Dustin. Their impact, not only on Kaitlyn, but on our community has been great. They, along with several of their teammates, exemplify what is good with college football. Kaitlyn is going to miss that they are here, but I am confident that she will happy to watch them in the NFL next season. And as emotional as she is today about them leaving, Amber and I should probably come up with a solid plan to tell her that our friend Caroline is also graduating and will be pursuing her own career next year. That one might have to wait a little because she adores Caroline.