Fathers are inherently selfish. We want our kids to like the stuff we like.
Mothers also have inherent traits, but I won’t go into that because those fall outside of my personal experience. Also, I don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight.
To a father, delight is seeing your child excited about one of your interests. With my oldest, this has been a win some, lose some proposition. He’s always been interested in geography and history, but not so much in reading or sports.
For a boy anticipating the 1st grade, he has good reading skills. Still, he hasn’t ever shown much joy at the prospect of reading. He’s clung to the standard “Reading is boring.” ideology common among boys.
So he wouldn’t lose ground over summer vacation, my wife took him to the library and signed him up for the summer reading program. He showed me the books he checked out. They share a single theme. We began with Weapons of the Civil War. He will likely be the only 1st grader in his school with the word Howitzer in his lexicon.
The unspecified prizes from the library program are of limited motivational value. What does motivate him is that we allow him time playing computer games after he reads. This is a win-win, since some of his games teach him things, like reading graphs, and all of them keep him quiet for an hour.
He’s begun asking to read. He’s politically astute enough to claim he wants to read so he can improve his skills, but we all know it’s so he can earn computer time. Either way, I’ll take it.
Like with reading, the boy never showed much interest in football or basketball. I don’t know why, but this summer he has been asking to play basketball with me. I’ve been meaning to fix our driveway backboard since we bought the house in 2005. Meanwhile, we play on a plastic kids’ hoop. Under the plastic hoop rules, the boy needs only dribble the ball when convenient and Daddy must stand clear whenever the boy announces his intention to shoot.
I was pleasantly surprised last week when he asked if we could watch a basketball game on TV together. There aren’t many basketball games on TV in summer, so we settled for the replay of a college football game from 1981. When Mommy called to see what we were up to, he told her, “We’re just watching a football game from when Daddy was 14.” We bet on who would win the game. I had the advantage, having been alive at the first playing. I got to spend time sharing one of my interests with my son, so I guess I won.
There’s no guarantee that my son’s new-found interests will last. I’m making the most of them while they’re fresh. We’ve got a library down the street, and that basketball hoop I’ve meant to fix for the past nine years – I ordered a replacement backboard today.