When I submit my application for 2008 Parent of the Year, this story will be at the top:
On Friday morning, I walked into my 4 1/2 year old daughter’s room to wake her lazy bones up for school. I started to shake her gently until she opened her eyes, rubbed them with the back of her hand, and said:
“Daddy, Ben Sheets is pitching today.”
When you’re a male and your first child is a girl, there is always an unspoken worry that you might miss out on the days of bonding with your hypothetical son over sports. Of course, girls can enjoy sports too, but you always know the father-daughter sports dynamic is going to be different. Even in the toughest days of my relationship with my dad, we could always talk about the Brewers or Packers. The most quality time I ever spent with him was in our front yard, playing catch. (One time, we were tossing around a Ben Oglivie ground rule double I had caught, and it went in the sewer.) To this day, when I call him, that’s primarily the focus of our talks, and likely will be until the day one of us dies. (Ironically, my death will most likely be caused by the Packers or Brewers.)
At some point, a parent has to realize that your kids are going to learn things at school of which you may not approve. That’s the balance you strike when you pay someone to take your kids off your hands for a few days a week. (It has often been said that one of the great joys of parenting is spending time away from your children.)
As it turns out, one of my daughter’s day care teachers is a HUGE Packers/Brewers/Badgers fan. (Rumor has it there’s also a pro basketball team in Wisconsin, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence of it on the internet.) And this teacher is passing on her love of all things Wisconsin sports to my daughter and all the other kids in her class. Some days they even have “wear your Brewer gear to school” day. (My girl proudly wears her Prince Fielder t-shirt, as she still has questions about Ryan Braun’s ability to hit the change-up.)
Naturally, I approve of this. In fact, if my daughter learns to love the Brewers and Packers in place of learning math or science, I might be okay with that. Love of sports will last her a lifetime. She’s got plenty of time to learn to read. In fact, if I can push off her being able to read this blog for an extra couple years, that might be a good deal.
But consider the flip side of this whole sports indoctrination process. What if I was a Cub fan and my daughter was being taught to be a Brewer fan at school? What if I was living in Chicago and the day care teachers were holding “wear your Brian Urlacher jersey to school” day? (I don’t have to worry about offending Cubs or Bears fans, as they are unlikely to be able to read this post.) I seriously might complain to the school. I think an immediate parent/teacher conference would be in order.
This might be sacrilege to say, but I think I would actually be more offended if my daughter was being taught to be a Viking fan than if her school was inculcating her with Hinduism or something. At some point, my kids are going to be going to Madison public schools and be subjected to preposterously liberal classrooms. I can handle that – but I couldn’t possibly handle my child wearing a Fukudome jersey. Never. Ever. Never.
In the meantime, I am psyched about taking her to her first Brewer game. I believe my first one was in 1980, against the Yankees. I also went to the game in 1982 when Rickey Henderson tied the all-time steals record against the Brew Crew. Hopefully, when she walks into Miller Park, she won’t have to wait until she’s married with kids to witness a playoff berth.