I had intended to post yesterday, but after the Green Bay Packers painful playoff loss, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. Not even the three compliments I received yesterday on my vacation tan managed to cheer me up. To be honest, that did cheer me up a little. I do look pretty tan.
I felt even worse for Optimist Prime who woke up with me at 4:45AM to gather downtown with other Packers fans. The loss was especially difficult since the two of us own shares in the Packers and we’ve been deriving a lot of our self-esteem from belittling football fans who didn’t own shares in an NFL team that won the Super Bowl last year.
This was the first time my son had experienced a painful sports loss. In the three years he’d been following the Packers, they had only overachieved and we always had the sense of playing with house money, although he wouldn’t have described it as such because he doesn’t gamble–as far as I know. He was teary-eyed as we left the sports bar at 8:30AM, leaving the cheers of those New Yorkers behind us, and as we rode the taxi to his school I prepped him on humorous ways to deflect any Schadenfreude taunts of his classmates to help him avoid the urge to hit anybody.
When a sports team’s loss counts as one of your major disappointments, it’s certainly evidence of having led a charmed life. When I asked him to name his three biggest disappointments in life, he answered:
1. Yesterday’s Packers’ loss.
2. When he missed the series finale of the cartoon The Last Airbender and then his dad cancelled satellite a short time thereafter, depriving him of any chance to see it on reruns.
3. Learning that the United Kingdom wasn’t the same thing as England and also encompassed Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, meaning he had to remember something else.
“Wait until next year,” is the typical consolation refrain of the sports fan after a playoff loss, but it just didn’t feel sufficient this time since the year is 2012, and there’s a lot of Mayan speculation that 2013 might not take place. The loss throws a definite wrench into my plans for the rest of this year. After returning from vacation, I was planning on riding the Packers playoff high until the Super Bowl during the first week of February. What am I going to do with my life over the next few weeks without the Packers in the playoffs? I hadn’t scheduled another phase of the year to start until mid-February when I planned to start feeling guilty about not spending enough time with the kids. That phase was going to last until mid-March when I started worrying about my tan again.
Every year I set a goal for how much time to spend with each of my sons, and the most troubling development in the Packers’ loss is that I was planning on filling my yearly father-son time quota with Optimist Prime during the next three weeks of football. Now I’m straining to find a replacement father-son activity, hopefully something that also includes TV and high-fiving.
I offered to help him build a treehouse. We walked around our yard and couldn’t find one tree thick enough to support the weight of a birdhouse, let alone a treehouse, so I offered to buy him a potted sapling we could place inside the house and suggested he put a refrigerator box around it.
He may still find some grief relief by working with his hands, and although he won’t be building a treehouse, I did get him a hammer and some boards. I forbid him from working with nails out of concern for his safety, but I’m sure he’ll manage almost as much fun hammering those boards.
I also encouraged him to focus his energy on something constructive like breaking a bad habit. I asked if he had any bad habits I could help him break and he answered, “Kidnapping.” I told him I meant something more like quitting smoking. He insisted he didn’t smoke and wasn’t planning on starting. He also wasn’t interested in losing weight, gaining weight, giving up gambling, or giving up compulsive shopping. The conversation lasted about thirty seconds. I’m going to count it.
Some fathers and sons hunt together, but we’re vegetarians and not the hunting types, so we may try ghost hunting or tofu taxidermy.
I’m still looking for other ideas on activities we can do together and things I can teach him. Just today I learned he’s already old enough to know how to tie his shoes. Inversely, he’s too young to appreciate any advice on growing and grooming a mustache. I’m looking for something in the middle.