It’s 7:00 in the evening. The dinner dishes are put away; the children are bathed and in their PJs. Baby Alex and I have ducked into the kitchen, my unofficial writing space. From the living room I can hear the other three members of my family completely engaged in watching “Return of the Jedi”.
The Two-Year-Old: That Chewy! That Chewy! That Chewy, daddy!
My Husband (Reading subtitles): There will be no bargain.
The Two-Year-Old: There Chewy! There Chewy right there! (Pause) Where Chewy?
The Four-Year-Old says nothing, having fallen into that wide-eyed, slack-faced TV stupor that makes one wonder if she is comprehending anything she sees.
The Two-Year-Old: Chewy!
Some people call it indoctrination; we call it intentional parenting.
|I have two questions for you:
Why are you making me root for a cursed team, and
do you realize I have no idea how to sit upright?
We started before our kids even knew what was happening: Star Wars and Chicago Cubs onesies, a bedtime CD of instrumental Phish lullabies. We were never big on listening to kids’ music in the car, so our girls learned to love the music we listened to. Maggie was barely three when I became obsessed with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ song “Same Love”. She called it “her song'” and asked to hear “I Can’t Change” every time we drove anywhere. These days she’s just as likely to frolic around the house singing something by Foster the People or Cold War Kids as she is to be belting out a tune from Frozen.
There’s just something about involving your children in the things you love. Maggie and Ceci, as young as they are, know how happy it makes their daddy to hear them root for the Cubbies or to snuggle with them after a long day at work and watch Tony and Michael – our kids are on a first-name basis – on Pardon the Interruption. We can’t wait to take them to their first baseball game, their first concert. The thought of teaching my girls to play pool, as my dad taught me, makes me giddy. And I can’t lie, I look forward to educating my children on the difference between good beer and crappy beer once they’re legal.
Right now our kids don’t know any better; they still want to be like their mom and dad. We know that the day is coming when that will change, and they’ll think that everything their parents do and everything we like is totally lame. Maybe they’ll get into some teeny-bopper band that uses emojis in its song titles, and we’ll totally support that. We’ll load them and a bunch of their giggling, squealy friends into the car and shuttle them to an arena where we will watch a group of pre-pubescent boys perform overtly sexual choreographed dances. We will buy them souvenir t-shirts that we think are stupid. We will hope that this is just a phase, that at some point soon they will realize that their parents’ taste in music is actually amazing, and then they will get on their knees and thank us for being so insanely cool.
|Look on the bright side, Maggie as a baby-
you could be wearing a gold bikini.
Our daughters are going to be who they are; we get that. We can only steer them so far. My husband and I were both swimmers, so we might prefer that they choose to join a swim team over a cheerleading squad, but in the end, of course, it doesn’t matter. (I touched upon this some about a year ago in my post “Who Will You Be? (A Parent’s Guessing Game), if you haven’t read it!)
In a way, it’s kind of nice that our children will likely set aside a lot of the tastes and interests that we have worked so hard to instill in them. Our interests will change with theirs, because no matter what they’re into, we will want to be a part of it. It will give us a chance, when we’re middle-aged and fading into irrelevance, to broaden our horizons and get involved in something we otherwise would not have. One example: when I was in 7th grade I begged my dad to take me and my friends to a local alt-rock music festival, and he’s still listening to the Butthole Surfers. (I’ve moved on.)
But for now they’re our babies, ours to cuddle and dance with, ours to dress in amusing clothing and force to participate in themed family Halloween costumes. Which reminds me, I have to find Maggie a Princess Leia costume for her birthday party. She’s having it at the bowling alley and we’re calling it “The Empire Strikes Back”. Stay tuned for a future blog post titled, “How to Breastfeed a Baby in a Robot Outfit.”