Saturday, October 12, 2013

I don't look forward to broken hearts

I haven't blogged in a while, so I have tons to tell my loyal readership.  When I get my new phone I'm going to get an app called "Remember to Blog About ...."  If it doesn't already exist, I'll create it.  But because I don't yet have this app, all of the interesting, insightful things I meant to blog about have already been forgotten.  You are left with only the garbage you are currently reading.

First issue: Is being a parent weird or am I just a weird parent?
Today, Kat, Ada and I were at a birthday party for a 3-year-old.  While the kids were running around, one of the mothers of another kid pointed at Ada and said to me, and the exact words are important here: "Is that yours?"  Now, I know that the generally accepted answer would be yes.  But this question makes me uncomfortable because it makes it sound as though I own Ada.  I prefer to say that she is her own autonomous person but we have a familial relationship.  I have this same difficulty with calling her "my daughter."  I don't own her, and I don't have much of a claim to her other than sharing some DNA.  She does her own thing, and I do mine -- we just happen to spend a lot of time together.

But, having said all that, I responded to that mother by saying, "Well, I don't own her, but we live in the same house."  This made this woman thoroughly confused.  Kat had to reassure this woman that I was actually Ada's biological father and that, no, she should put down her phone and should not call the cops.  This has taught me that there may be no point in trying to explain that yes, I am Ada's dad, but I don't call her mine because she is her own person.  I may have to give in, but it still makes me feel kind of weird.  But my attempts to explain this only lead to people knowing I'm weird.  If anyone has suggestions about how to answer questions about Ada that seem to implicate the Thirteenth Amendment, I am all ears.  For now, I am going to just mumble something and then run away.

Second issue: Football or why I'm glad Ada is a female.
I highly recommend the Frontline episode about the NFL concussion issue called "League of Denial."  I also recommend "Slow Getting Up," a book by former NFL tight end Nate Jackson.  The book explains what it is actually like to play in the NFL if you are not a star and will make you pretty sad throughout.  Another book that will make you sad that is tangentially about football that I "enjoyed" is "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" by Ben Fountain.  The book seems to do a pretty good job of encapsulating what it might be like to fight for the US in a modern war, both in the battlefield and back at home.  Despite its sadness, it actually is pretty funny.

But to get back to League of Denial, 44 of 46 brains of deceased NFL players that have been examined had chronic traumatic encephelopathy (CTE).  And while there is undoubtedly some selection bias in that figure -- after all the players that have healthy brains after playing aren't yet dead -- that is an amazing number.  What is even scarier is that a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old that had played football also were found to have CTE. It seems difficult to say that more research is needed to rule out other causes in light of these statistics.  And yet the games go on.  And I continue to watch.

This is not a blog entry about how I'm giving up watching football.  I still enjoy watching it, and I enjoyed playing it.  But I'm glad that Ada will never ask me to play football, so I don't have to make that choice. Girls can get concussions playing soccer or basketball or any of a number of other sports, but the incidence simply is not the same, despite statements by people who rely on the NFL for their paychecks.  If you read the stories about ex-NFL players or try to watch them go about their daily lives, it is difficult to enjoy football as you once did.  But still, Cowboys against the Washington Professional Football Team (I won't get into that issue right now) should be a good game Sunday night.  I'll be watching, no doubt.

Third issue: Aha!
I also highly recommend "I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan," the memoir of Steve Coogan's unctuous chat-show host character.  It's hilarious and you can really hear the character saying this drivel.  I had read that the audiobook was actually better than the real book, but you can't put an audiobook on a shelf and point at it and say "Aha!"  I'm also excited to see "Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa," the full-length film released this year in the UK that should be released in America next year.  It is a bummer that Netflix Instant does not have any AP, but if you want some Coogan instantly, you can't go wrong with Saxondale or In the Loop.

I'm also reading The Infatuations by Javier Marias.  I think it is good, but I may be too dumb to understand smart people's books.  I read about it in the New York Times Book Review, and I'm working my way through it.  I'll let you know.

Fourth issue: Ada!
She is quite the comedian, even though she does not understand the concept of humor.  I have been trying to teach her a knock knock joke to annoy people with, but she has not caught on quite yet.  I was working on the following:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Impatient cow.
Impatient co--

She has a ways to go, though.  What is hilarious is when you ask her whether she wants to do something, and she enthusiastically states: "I do!"  But it sounds like "adieu," so I have been trying to teach her to say that when she leaves as well.  Like they say in all of the parenting books: Puns can never start too early!

But while she can be funny, she can also be a little mean sometimes.  And you would think that a 20-pound mass with a low IQ should not be able to hurt an adult's feelings, but when she tells me that I can't play with her, it is a little dispiriting.  It makes me think about the times that I was not so nice to my parents and makes me regret those instances even more.  Ada isn't old enough to tell me she doesn't love me, but I know that will happen in the future because I did the same thing to my parents.  It is simply a part of growing up, I suppose, but it doesn't make me look forward to it.

These other parents (who are so gauche that they call their own children their property!) often say how they want their kids to stay the way they are and stop growing up.  I don't say that because I look forward to Ada getting older and learning new things.  But I don't look forward to fights and arguments and slammed doors.  I don't look forward to the things I did to hurt my parents.  I don't look forward to broken hearts.

But Ada does scores of things every day that help me not worry about the broken hearts.  I'll give you two for free.  One is when we are playing in her room and she goes and shuts the door and says it's "for piracy."  That always makes me laugh The second is when she pretends to cook for me at her play kitchen and says she will make me "me-balls and sawgambi," aka meatballs and spaghetti.  I'll always have these memories, so I don't worry too much.

In the end, I know that I am a weird parent, and I know that I have a weird, wonderful kid.  I hope that I can help her have a great life.  Aha!