Unintentional Grounding

There are questions you just never think to ask.

There's this period when you're engaged to someone, when you're married for a while and things haven't gone to hell yet, when having a kid just seems like the stage you're at. Some things just seem like givens, and you don't really think about them so much, even when you have the chance to. You even get that last 9 months where your dad expects you to ask questions. And you do -- but they're all the silly expected ones: diapers, what it does to your sex life, how do you know if you'll be a good dad?

It's 11:30 on an early autumn Sunday. My weekend. Breakfast has been served, cartoons have been watched together. We stayed up late last night watching a Disney movie together and laughing at it (despite the underlying message of Lilo and Stitch, the one about little families that are broken, but still good -- seemed a quiet kick in the gut considering all the drama that happened earlier with his mother). It's been a good weekend so far.
They're always good weekends when my son is here.
But now it's closing in on noon, and he's playing video games and I'm on the computer. I only have the one TV, and he's particularly glued to this new game -- so it's not really a big deal.

And yet..

I don't have a memory of learning to like watching football with my dad. I just remember liking it. I grew up in Colorado at a time when there weren't a billion cable channels or videogame consoles or smartphones -- so Broncos games were pretty much like church. And both my parents like football (and at the time still liked each other), so everybody watched.

I remember liking it. I remember being a little kid getting psyched for superbowls. I remember pestering my dad to take me to games. I never played pop warner, I wasn't particularly a jock -- I just liked football.

My kid isn't into it.

It's not a problem. I don't need him to be into it, and I'm fine with him being passionate about other things. The fact that he's 12 and is formulating opinions and tastes of his own is fascinating to experience, and the fact that he likes a lot (but not all) of my music and laughs at most of my jokes makes me feel 100 feet tall.

But I kinda wish he liked watching football on Sundays.

I've tried to get him into it before, but it's just never clicked. The world is different now, of course; more distractions, more options, and Jacksonville Florida damn sure ain't Denver and it's surrounding towns -- but even so, it just sorta bores him.

Can't get mad at that. It's not his thing. We connect in different ways.

But I wonder about it. I mean, think about it -- a four-hour football broadcast (plus pregame and all that) is probably anything but interesting to most kids. Once you learn the game it becomes something more, I suppose -- but now I'm really curious as to how it was that I came to like it.

I know my dad enough to know that if I told him I didn't want to watch football back in the day, he would have been fine with it. Just go play outside with your brother or in your room. I can't even begin to imagine my dad forcing me to like something I didn't want to watch. It's just not the kind of guy he is.

I guess when I really think about it -- even as a little kid football was like the thing my dad and I really had in common. I love the man, but even as a child I gravitated towards music he didn't like -- and a lot of the other things we did in Colorado back in the day were driven by my mom's ideas of recreation (karate, swim lessons, meditation training -- ugh, she was into some hippie shit back then).

By contrast, my son and I share all sorts of things. Perhaps football is just one too many?

One of the things I used to hate as a kid was when my parents would invite friends over for a game night and send us to bed early. Now that I'm older I get it -- have a few cocktails, talk like grownups and have sort of a date night -- but as a kid who wanted to be around the older folks and who definitely didn't want to go to sleep when people were awake and having fun I got yelled at a lot for making up bullshit excuses for coming downstairs and trying to inject myself into game night.

I was that kid that wanted to be in with the grownups. The idea of a game of Yahtzee that I was banned from being in despite the fact that I knew how to play Yahtzee was pretty much the worst thing ever in my mind when I was little. I've got jokes too, old people -- what's with this age restriction bullshit?

I think that was a part of me watching football with dad. It felt like a grown up thing, and it was his favorite thing -- and that was my dad, you know?

Nowadays football is just part of my world. I'm not obsessive or annoying about it. I love my team, but my whole world isn't wrapped in it. Maybe my son senses that, and it cubs his desire to share it with me as much as he does with other things?

Hard to say for sure.
Still wish I could watch the game, though.

[Now Playing:  Frank Ocean - "Pyramids" ]


Matthew said…
My parents had those nights too, but the other families would bring their kids and we'd have 10 kids over. Once, my sister tape recorded one of the louder drunks who came over and we replayed it to him the next time he was over, and another time at age 5 I streaked the grownups.
I only recently got into football, and it was an intentional process that took several years, much like expanding my taste palette and learning about wine. I used to be a cheerleader WAY back in the day (before junior high, overnight punk rock conversion) so I knew some of the basic rules but hated football until one fateful fun filled day at Florida State. From then on, I could at least be considered a shitty fan, which was a step up.

Yeah, don't bug him about it - maybe he'll come around maybe he won't. We always had loud raucous drunken brawling football block parties. The only thing I liked about it was the chance to wreak havoc with the other kids while the adults were not paying attention, I was the youngest so begging to come along.

You are an amazing writer. You must have paid attention. :)

As a representative of the City of Denver, I would like to say that the City really appreciates your clear fondness for our amazing City and the Denver Broncos... maybe I can get you a hookup with something fabulous here... :) (It's just going to be a half used pencil with our logo, don't get too excited.)