The Most Interested Man in the World

25 Apr

One of the joys of being an adult is the ability to make your own decisions. To decide what you want to do, how you want to spend your time, and who you want to spend it with.

And then you have kids, and pretty much all of your autonomy goes out the window.

Thankfully, and startlingly, one of the side-effects of becoming a parent is that you change – you don’t have to change everything, not if you don’t want to, but you will inevitably change, at least a little. Your lifestyle will shift and your priorities will be re-ordered and, suddenly, the people you most want to spend your time with are your kids, and the things you want to do are what they want to do.

Most of the time.

I hate soccer. I hate watching it. I hate playing it. I hate soccer.

I know I’m just playing into the typical xenophobic, Freedom Fries, ugly American stereotype, but I can’t help it. I’ve just never liked the sport. I find it boring to watch and I found it boring to play, back when I was forced to play it. Some of my distaste for futbol may or may not have to do with having had a psychopathic coach for a couple of years or parks and rec games, but it goes beyond that. I’m just not into it.simpsons 300x228 The Most Interested Man in the World

Unfortunately, my son seems to love it. He loves baseball and football and basketball too, but when it comes to playing, soccer is starting to take over. It’s just so easy for him. You don’t need anything but a ball and a swath of grass, and all you have to do is kick. It’s also basically just running nonstop, which is pretty much my son’s favorite thing on earth.

He never wants to stop running OR playing, so much so that I might have to sit the little slave-driver down and explain the concept of heart attacks, just to scare him straight. But how do you resist that tiny hand tugging you to go with, or that little voice pleading “again, Daddy!” or asking to be thrown up into the air “so many more times!” You don’t. I will survive! I will not fall into despair! I will keep myself hardy until freedom is opportune!

And so, just as I’ve been roped into running with him and going up and down stairs with him and sticking my arms out to fly like Superman with him and throwing him up in the air over and over until my arms are killing me, merely because I love him so much and it makes him so happy, I now find myself playing soccer with him.

I went into this parenting thing dreaming of how I was going to indoctrinate my son into my interests. He was going to like the music I like, and follow the teams I follow, and love the books I love, and watch the movies I watch. And that may yet prove true. But thus far I’m the one being indoctrinated into things, like playing with trains and watching Mike the Knight and listening to the Frozen soundtrack. My three-year-old is in total control. He even has me eating his sandwich crusts! And now I’m playing a sport I hate.

And loving it!

How could I not? It’s impossible not to catch some of his enthusiasm as we pass the ball back and forth in the backyard, or he figures out how to dribble down the field with a big grin on his face, or finally catches a little air and lifts the ball further than he has before and chases happily after it. It quickly stops being about playing a sport I’ve never liked and becomes about making my favorite person on earth happy.

Of course I play with him.

Most Interested pirate meme 217x300 The Most Interested Man in the WorldI don’t yet know that my son’s soccer fetish will last (is it appropriate to use the word fetish in reference to a toddler? I’m gonna say no but oh well) – the sport has never had a stronger foothold in this country and it’s always been a standard school offering – but it doesn’t matter. Because whether it’s soccer or lacrosse (ugh) or dancing or listening to country music (UGH) or writing poetry or even liking the Jets (OH HELL NO), I’ll join in. It’s not my job to force him into a collection of interests that please me. But it is in my best interest to find common ground with him, both as a parent and as a friend.

I want to be a part of his life, and that means always supporting him in the things he loves, even if they are things I hate or don’t understand. Even if it means that next Halloween I’ll be forced to dress like Anna.

I know I won’t always be the most interesting man in the world to my son, but, when it comes to him, I’ll always be the most interested man in the world.


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6 Responses to “The Most Interested Man in the World”

  1. Larry April 25, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    I hear you. We support the kids even if it is not quite what we would have chosen. There are things much worse than soccer. For example the Giants. Ha Ha. Eagles fan here.
    Larry recently posted…Lollipops and Popsicles: Two Generations of SticksMy Profile

  2. ihopeiwinatoaster April 26, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Well said. What I like about you posts is that you are so understanding of your own shortcomings. “I went into this parenting thing dreaming of how I was going to indoctrinate my son into my interests.” Yes, so very insightful, I thought the same thing but, the guitars gather dust, I still cook by myself and they can’t seem to embrace housework with the love I have for it… well, maybe that one is a fabrication. Always a pleasure.
    ihopeiwinatoaster recently posted…“Can I Go On Out?” And Other MathMy Profile

  3. Dr Daddy Kay April 26, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Great post and oh so true! Love the closing paragraph. It’s so true being dragged into the very thing you don’t want to do at that given time and then ending up loving it because your little one is having such a good time. A fun read…thanks!

  4. Dada Mike April 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    “…lacrosse (ugh) or dancing or listening to country music (UGH) or writing poetry or even liking the Jets (OH HELL NO)” You are a better man than I. Some things are just sacred, or in the case of your examples, whatever the opposite of sacred is. Regardless I liked this post a lot. Parents of toddlers all know who really runs the show and the key is to “get down on their level,” they tell you, enjoy what they enjoy or at the least, fake it for their sake. I’m with you, this sh*t is funnnnn once you give it a chance. Those Frozen jams rock! Kitchen dance parties are where it’s at! Even lacrosse and The Jets are…nope, not even for the sake of argument.

    • Dad and Buried April 28, 2014 at 9:49 am #

      I assure you, I am a better man than NO ONE. But I’m more than happy to fake it for a while and hope that eventually our interests start to dovetail a bit. But you’re right, if he starts liking the Jets, I might give him up for adoption.

      Thanks for checking in!

  5. Seth April 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    What’s wrong with soccer? :) Thankfully us west coasters don’t have to worry about lacrosse. Well said as usual.

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