I made a monster.
This 3 ½ year old kid, wearing his jet fighter pajamas, is sitting in the dark watching the 2 a.m. SportsCenter.
It’s been a rough night. Jack has had trouble sleeping (he says it’s a sore throat) and he’s had trouble staying still. His only solace has become our family room couch. Instead of calming him down upstairs by our daughter, I whisk him downstairs to give him a little peace.
The other parents I talk to have their kids hold teddy bears, read books, listen to music…what does Jack want to do? ‘Dad, can we watch the basketball game?’ ‘Dad, are the (insert random hockey team) playing?’ ‘Dad, is the football season over?’
Past a certain hour, television for the kids is not allowed in our house. However, with the trouble he’s been having, I flip on the TV for about 10 minutes. SportsCenter it is.
“Dad, did the Clippers win?” “He just made a lot of shots.” “Are these college teams?” “Is this Notre Dame?” “Look, Dad! The Bulls are playing!” “Hockey teams, look! The Blue Jackets!”
All of the observations are correct. When the TV shows the Clippers, it’s the Clippers. If it’s a college game, he can tell…and by god, if it’s the Columbus Blue Jackets, then it’s the Columbus F’n Blue Jackets.
Jack has memorized the logos of about 90% of the big four professional sports leagues. His favorite book is from the Hockey Hall of Fame. His favorite activity is playing one-man football games between two imaginary teams. We can’t flip past SportsCenter or a sporting event without being asked to stay on the channel.
Last night, when Illinois was playing Indiana, he told me to ‘turn this college game off’. He never heard who was playing. He just knew.
And thus, it is.
My son, without any pressure from his father or any relative, has turned into a sports monster. His knowledge of sports is already around the level of a nine year old.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a lot like other kids: enjoys books about dinosaurs, plays with a train set, watches his favorite kids show, etc. Yet, he still needs those magnets.
It started as a simple decoration: four of the major professional sports leagues have magnet boards. We would align the boards in our basement by our sports memorabilia. What happened? Jack turned it into his little ‘sports lab’.
Jack has created his little playoff game systems. Every day he goes down to the basement, takes the magnets down, and then selects who will play. Jack then emerges from the downstairs, and proceeds to play himself in whichever game he chooses. Last night, the 49ers and Giants went to overtime. Or maybe it was three overtimes. All I know is it took for f’n ever.
I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have a son. On top of that, I didn’t think I could possibly get one that enjoyed sports as much as me.
My biggest focus as a parent was to never force my children into enjoying the things that I enjoy; I want my kids to have their life…not their dad’s.
So, after all of these efforts to stay away, what happened? Nothing. Nature took over. He was just meant to be like this, I guess. Some sickening accelerated carbon copy of myself that makes me love him more day after day.
There are worse things, I guess. Some dads are stuck watching Barney.
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