Sunday afternoon, our house. Ryan has decided to watch the Jets game. He knows it’s a key contest for the Jets if they have any hope of making the playoffs.
It doesn’t go well.
The next two-plus hours, before Ryan gives up and switches to hockey (long after most Jets fans had left the stadium, by the looks of things on TV) are filled with loud complaints about the Jets’ play — none of which are inaccurate, I might add.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HOW CAN YOU NOT STOP HIM?
LET’S GET A STOP, JETS! GET OFF THE FIELD!
DO YOU EVEN KNOW YOU NEED TO WIN THIS GAME TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
Veronica comes and goes, running errands, doing housework. She pops her head in the living room occasionally to see how things are going.
She knows that even though both our teams are losing (I was watching my favorite team, Tampa Bay, put on an equally inept performance on my iPad so I could be with Ryan) this time makes me so happy. It’s more time for Ryan and I to spend together, engaged in a common interest. It’s proof that his nascent interest in football, while nowhere near as strong as his love of hockey, isn’t going away.
She and I make eye contact. She smiles. She knows. Still, there’s something that bothers her. Ryan is yelling at the TV again. He is growing increasingly frustrated with the Jets’ rookie quarterback, Geno Smith. He is, once again, spot on. Smith will be benched after halftime.
THROW THE BALL, GENO! GET. RID. OF. THE. BALL!
“Oh my God,” she says. “There’s two of you now! I can’t take this!”
She is smiling as she says it.
Yes, my son has become me when he watches a football game, proof that children learn by modeling their parents. I might have a habit of offering advice to my team’s players through the TV screen. I might know that it sounds ridiculous, but I do it anyway.
There are things I hope to pass on to my son: Wisdom. Decency. A sense of fairness. Passion for the things one cares about (sports included).
Yelling at the TV? That wasn’t on the list, but I take pride in it nonetheless. A small confirmation that my son — no matter his challenges — and I are far more similar than we are different.