Recognizing that my kid’s personality is her own, that she’s not a mini-me in her opinions or interests, continues to surprise me. I understand that genetically, she’s only half me, but she still manages to prove that she’s more than the sum of her parents.
Example: Over the past three years, my 9-year-old girl child has evolved into a baseball fanatic.
Until our daughter became a trash-talking, stats-spouting fangirl, her dad’s involvement with the world of baseball included reading the sports page and occasionally watching some of the World Series down at Northside Bar & Grill. I was oblivious to the sport. Now, however, baseball is a huge, and strangely enough, important part of our family life.
Every morning, I’m awakened by the squeaking of our front door as my girl heads outside to get the morning newspaper. By the time the rest of us come downstairs for breakfast, she’s ready to report on the previous night’s scores and stories.
The course of our day often depends on a certain team’s success or failure. She’s chosen her dad’s team, the Cleveland Indians, as her favorite major leaguers. Our local boys, the Tourists, are her minor-league faves. Her brother likes the Detroit Tigers because he intuits that they compete with the Indians with the same intensity that he competes with his big sister.
There are many things I thought I’d learn as a parent: patience, humility, how to effectively wipe a tiny heinie, all the words to the Barney songs. I’ve learned all those and more. Patience remains my biggest challenge, and I’ve desperately tried to forget the “I Love You, You Love Me” song. But I never thought that having a daughter would teach me so much about professional baseball, or about myself.
Despite my equality-based beliefs, some gender-biased part of me remains surprised that my girl child is the sports-obsessed one. Her fandom forces me to engage with this interest of hers in a way I might’ve left to her dad if she’d been born a he.
I’ll never know half as much as she does about the sport, but I do know more than I ever thought I would. I know that the Asheville Tourists have one of the best percentages of any team, in the majors or minors. Whatever that means. I know that Grady Sizemore rocks the Cleveland Indians and that Smoltzie’s the strikeout king.
Not only do I know how to pronounce Hideki Matsui, but I’m actually enthusiastic about his batting average. Admittedly, I did spend most of one Sunday afternoon Tourists’ game reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But I put down the book and cheered with my girl when she poked me, yelling that Michael Paulk had batted in a run. Because she cares, I do.
When local player Cameron Maybin was called up to play in the majors last week, I was so excited that I took my laptop to the bus stop so my girl could read the online story immediately. Granted, Maybin’s youth and raw talent make for a thrilling story regardless of your interest in sports, but three years ago, I never would have stayed up late to watch his first at bat for the Tigers.
He struck out with Andy Pettite pitching. Fricking Andy Pettite! Imagine if the editor of The New York Times called and asked me to write a story for the next day’s newspaper. I might strike out the first time too. But, like Maybin, I’d swing as hard as I could.
When it comes to baseball, my daughter teaches me. And I’m a willing pupil. Having her explain the bunt rule to me, or why Carmona blew it the previous night, thrills me. Already, she doesn’t answer all my questions about school or her friends or what she’s thinking, but always, she’ll answer my questions about baseball.
— Anne Fitten Glenn is a freelance writer and photographer in Asheville. She blogs about a number of topics, including parenthood, at www.edgymama.com.