And so it begins. I guess we knew, or at least suspected this day was coming when we found out we were going to have a son. After all, chances are he’d be a proto-hetero (since orientation, I’ve been told, isn’t established until around two or three), and most heterosexual guys I know seem to have at least some interest in sports. (Some gay guys too. Not all of us break out in hives at the thought of having to perform athletically, I guess.) And the way Parker love to run and climb, etc., has lead both the hubby and I to think that he’ll end up playing some kind of sport at some point.
Now i’m wondering if it’s going to be sooner than later. See, Parker’s daycare takes a rather Montessori approach to learning, in which the teachers ask the kids what they want to learn about, and then taking off from there. It’s led to some interesting moments lately, like Parker telling us about chlorophyll and its role in the turning of the leaves in the fall. That was impressive. But nothing prepared me for the day he came home talking about football.
That’s right. I said football.
See, Parker’s class is mostly boys, and at least few of them are nascent football fans. They probably picked it up from their dads. In our house, on the other hand, we don’t even have the sports channels programmed into our favorites on DirectTV. (My niece came to visit once when Parker was a baby, during March Madness, and was dismayed to find we didn’t have any of the sports channels. We programmed them into our favorites just for her, and later deleted them.) My guess is that when the teacher asked “What do you want to learn about today?” one of the boys said “Football!” and that brought us to where we are now.
Parker came home on Friday talking about football. The teacher’s report said they learned about football and read an article about “santana moss.” The hubby and I immediately assumed that meant they learned about some kind of spanish moss. You know, like “Oh, they learned about football and gardening. How well rounded!” Not so. They meant Santana Moss, the wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, and the article was this one from the sports section of the Washington Post. I didn’t need to read the article because Parker relayed to me that Moss was hurt and wouldn’t be able to play against the Cowboys. Somewhere in there he also told me how many points a touchdown is worth.
Today he comes home with more information about the game including the functions of the center and quarterback. In the case of the latter he even assumed the position to show me just how the center “snaps” the ball to the quarterback.
If this keeps up, by the end of the Parker is going to know more about the hubby and I combined. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to a football game. For six years (which is another story), I went to a university with one of the biggest football traditions in the country. I mean big. The stadium was in the center of the campus. That meant if you weren’t going to the game, you got far away from the campus and even left town, because the whole place turned into a parking lot. Still, I only managed to attend two games. One I went to out of curiosity, since I got a ticket in the student lottery. The second I went because I happened to be sitting at a table for the Young Democrats during the 1992 campaign. Just before the game, a woman came up and said she was so proud to see us out there that she wanted me and my fellow table sitter to have two extra tickets she was holding. So, I went to my second, and last, football game.
Or so I thought. We may end up sitting in the stands yet. Though I think I’d encourage Parker towards another sport besides football, because I can’t imagine watching him get tackled. Maybe a nice indoor sport that doesn’t involve the hubby and me shivering in the stands. (Swim team, maybe?) Of course, whatever he ends up doing sports-wise, if anything, he’ll do with out support. If I have to learn the rules of football, basketball, etc. so be it.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Parenting has already led me out of many of my old comfort zones. It may also mean shedding my lifelong dread of all things sports related. Like a lot of athletically inept gay boys now grown up, I have surprisingly fresh memories sense of doom brought on by being forced to compete in an arena where I knew I didn’t have the skills and where things were bound to end with grand finale humiliation and heckling. Of course, that was after the ordeal of being the last pick for the teams in that day’s torture and before encore in the locker room.
Put it altogether and you get what I witnessed years ago when a gay group I was part of tried to participate in a gay softball league (there are gay men who didn’t have the experience above because they were successful athletes in school, and may well have snapped a towel or two at the rest of who were secretly lusting after them). You get grown men who, upon finding themselves standing at home plate are mentally and emotionally regressed back to the 8th grade. Myself included.
And chances are, the first time Parker asks me to throw a ball with him I’ll be transferred back to my 8th grade self, because I’m sure that my throwing hasn’t improved since then. I guess I’ll have to get over it. Especially if it means accepting my son for who he is, despite the fact that I didn’t get that when I was growing up. Or, better yet, because of it.