Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Kid Is Not Normal

I started this blog thinking that it would be the ideal place to ruminate about music, movies, politics and the like. You know, intellectual crap. The last thing I thought I would do is bore the bejesus out of people with stories about my cute, schoopity doopity little offspring.

"Isn't Madison's midriff just adorable?" "Carter is studying Mandarin at his Montesori!" "Oh, Nate still watches Bob the Builder? McCartney is into nanotechnology..."

Not for me, right?

Wrong. I give up. My son is four years old, and he's a sports addict.

It started innocently enough. I watch a fair amount of football in the fall, especially the Flailin' Irish. This season, during a certain game in early September, he started chanting "Go Michigan!" Was he trying to write himself out of the will? No. He simply liked rooting for the winner. When we went to Iowa City to visit friends and watch the Hawkeyes dismantle the Gutless Gophers, I bought him a little football that shouts "Go Hawkeyes!" when you hit it. I didn't realize that it was like giving heroine to a methadone addict.

As the days shortened and football begat basketball, his obsession deepened. He became the only person in the Twin Cities who actually watches the lowly Timberwolves... even finding the team's fictional promotional personality, Sweetwater Jones, funny. During this period, he started dribbling a basketball during the games and doing the play-by-play: "Daddy, Timberwolves got a three pointer!" "Mommy, Miami Heat got a swisher!"

A few weeks ago, he got out of bed and stumbled in his blue footy pajamas to his seat at the dining room table. After bowing his head to shake out the cobwebs, he looked up at me with half-closed Garfield eyes and said, "Daddy, we have some scores to check."

To this day, I get the Star Tribune. I hand him the Sports section. He sees which basketball and hockey teams won and lost the previous day, starting with the Minnesota teams. He now explores divisional standings and individual stats. He knows the names, nicknames and logos of every team in the NFL, most of the NBA and part of the NHL. He knows that I hate any team from Dallas.

Now (call it his Cubist Period), the idea of rooting for a team touches on abstraction. While an actual game plays on television, he will dribble his basketball around the house and manage an entirely separate game in his head. "Daddy, who are you rooting for, Boston Celtics or New Jersey Nets?" Those teams aren't playing, James. (Oh yeah. That's the game in your brain.) Boston Celtics. "Well that's too bad. 'Cuz it's Boston Celtics 39, New Jersey Nets 62."

At night, I used to tell him to give me a certain number of kisses on the cheek. Now I'll say give me a touchdown minus a three-pointer minus an extra point, and he'll do the math and still kiss me twice (he knows that a touchdown is worth six, not seven).

And as of this past weekend, it's about any two set of numbers. Case in point: He sees that the Wild beat the Islanders. He asks me to call my sister, who lives in Manhattan (and couldn't care less about professional hockey). We get her voicemail. "Aunty Christy, Minnesota Wild 4, New York Islanders 3." He hands me the phone. I hit the end button. He looks at the LED screen and ponders something. After a few seconds, he turns to me and says, "Daddy, which team are you rooting for, New Calls or Old Calls?"

10 comments:

Mike said...

You may think I jest, but there is DEFINITELY a screenplay here.

Sorta like LITTLE MAN TATE meets FEVER PITCH.

Anonymous said...

Screenplay? Sorry, wide left. YouTube vid? Yes! Score!

cookielady said...

as soon as my dad stopped reading the sports page aloud, my brother learned to read.

hope James doesn't turn out like my brother.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe you can't stand any team from Dallas. That's hurts.

From,
Bassist/Lead Singer

Marc Conklin said...

I know. I put that in to bait you.

Ted said...

Its hard for a sports fan in Minnesota right now... At least we have Johan Santana... Oh, Shit.

lalepro said...

flashback on poolside trauma, Marin County, CA, ca. 1976. summer. my towel has the logos of all the NFL teams on it (why?). big kid approaches me. "you like football?" "no," I tell him. "I like baseball." he winces at the answer, then kicks me. "those are all football teams on your towel, you pussy!"

sounds to me like your boy is of a different genotype than I am. I'll keep a safe distance.

Vegas Gopher said...

I was a regular reader of Sid's column before I started kindergarten. When I got to school, I never understood why Dick and Jane went anywhere without their close personal friend Spot.

ruth wj said...

Thank God I got the son that knows every car by make and model (we're still working on year), NASCAR driver and racetrack score.

Wait...maybe not...

Anonymous said...

Where some see screenplay, I see dissertation.

I SOOOOOOOOO love this posting. James, you make my life seem normal. Thanks!

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