I am not an Eagles fan.
That I am a native Philadelphian is one of the central facts of my life, and my ardor for baseball and the Phillies is well-established.
It’s not that I dislike the Eagles. The city is happier when the team wins, and I like that. More people read our newspapers and website when the Eagles win, and I like that, too.
We are just not a football-watching household; neither my husband nor I ever caught the NFL bug. And my husband hails from Los Angeles, so he doesn’t even have the hometown hook.
So when my 4-year-old opened his eyes on the morning of Jan. 22 and said, “Are the Eagles going to the Super Bowl?,” before he uttered a word about breakfast or what was happening at school that day, I was caught off guard.
A few weeks prior, we were eating dinner at a restaurant that happened to have the Eagles game playing on TVs hanging around the room. Kieran was transfixed — not just by the buoyant mood of the crowd, but by the particulars of what was happening on the field.
“I love the Eagles,” he said, with the same fervor he might reserve for Thomas the Tank Engine, reading books, or macaroni and cheese. He kept asking questions, later that night and in the days afterward. Of course, the Super Bowl frenzy all around him is feeding some of this, but his fandom has a true ring to it. I remember feeling the same way when I first started noticing the Phillies at about the same age.
I now find myself in a strange place: a football agnostic raising an Eagles enthusiast.
He assures me he still loves the Phillies.
But now Kieran wants to wear green shirts, because that’s what the Eagles wear. He asks to color Eagles pictures. He has learned parts of the fight song. (This would have come in handy a few weeks ago, when an Eagles-garbed Target employee announced that every person hoping to make a return needed to either display Eagles gear or sing the fight song, and I was in serious trouble until the woman behind me bailed me out by belting it out for both of us.)
Informed that he had a dentist appointment coming up soon, my boy worriedly asked if it was scheduled for Feb. 4.
“If it is,” he said, “I can’t go. I will be watching the Super Bowl.”
I will be honest: All of this feels a little disconcerting.
I took both of my children to their first Phillies games when they were just a few months old. They were too young to understand what was happening, but I wanted them to absorb the sound of the ballpark on a summer evening as soon as possible, just in case. Kieran and I will soon be traveling to Clearwater, Fla., for our annual spring-training pilgrimage — the third of his young life.
It’s fine if Kieran is not a sports-loving kid, but if he is, I was hoping he would care for Phillies above all else.
But, as with so much in parenting, I am learning, I don’t get to control what he loves.
I can only make sure his schedule is clear on Sunday.
Kristen Graham is an Inquirer and Daily News education reporter.