I sometimes look at my kids in complete awe and wonder. Oh wait. Not in that sugary sweet way parents are supposed to look and feel about their kids. I mean, I am in awe at how weird my kids are and wonder if they are really my kids. One kid refuses to eat most foods. Even the foods he claims to like, he often refuses to eat. None of them really care about sports or music the way I did. They all get really stressed at simple things. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are great. They are caring, curious, and all-around good people. I couldn’t be more proud of them. And yet…
When we were expecting our first kid, who became Ethan (age 16 now), I dreamed of a son who would be a smaller version of myself. I fantasized about teaching him the game of baseball. We would listen to Vin Scully on the radio, go to a few games, discuss the Dodgers’ chances of making the playoffs, and reminisce about the great players and plays we saw as time went by. We would take out my baseball card collection, and I would tell him stories about the players of my youth, Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey, Baker, Sutton. I would also teach him the history of the game. Robinson, Ruth, Williams, Dimaggio, Aaron, Page, Gibson. In reality, Ethan has shown a complete disdain for baseball and sports altogether. From as early as I can remember, he hated even looking at a baseball field. It was like he was trying to gaze into the sun.
I also imagined he would love music. When I was 11, I heard Eddie Van Halen for the first time. I became obsessed with learning how to play the guitar. My parents got me an acoustic first because that was the Christian and conservative thing to do. I played church songs and open chords while saving up for a couple of years to get my first electric guitar and tiny Peavy amp. Every chance I got, I played that shitty knock-off strat through that tiny amp, learning how to rock. By the time I was in Jr. High, my playing in bands finally got me noticed by my peers, including girls. I had been the weird oriental guy in my school, and suddenly, I was a local rock star. As I imagined fatherhood, I beamed at the fact that Ethan would have a proper guitar and amp to play. Turned out, he didn’t need them. Or want them. After a couple of years of lessons, he gave it up. He occasionally picks up a guitar and strums for a bit, but there is no urgency or passion.
Let’s just not talk about fishing.
I could go on about how many ways my expectations of fatherhood have been destroyed, but that’s not where I’m going with this. For every disappointment, there are countless ways I am amazed at my kids and who they are, and who they are becoming. They are not me. My youngest, Owen, shows flashes of interest in baseball and music, but by now, I’m fine with whomever he wants to be.
Future parenting posts will cover my thoughts on school and education, identity and gender, and general ranting about the state of humanity. Stay tuned.