Judge me all you want, internet friends, but babies love rhythm, and few songs move like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. As we listened, I found myself nervous and full of questions. Does he like it? Will he judge ME for liking it? Why isn’t he dancing yet? As it turned out, the little guy loved it. I moved his hands to the music, showed him some of my own moves, and sang along. We continued to dance, and my little monster started laughing. He beamed at me and continued to chuckle.
As he laughed, I was shocked at my own reaction. I suddenly felt comforted, as though my baby and I finally had something in common. This is absurd, of course, since we already have a great deal in common. We share the same eyes, the same skin complexion, and the same two bedroom apartment. Still, I valued this new connection, even while knowing that it might be fleeting or even false. After all, he might have just pooped. That tends to make him giggle, too.
In that moment, I realized just how much I want my son to share a few of my interests. I will honor any crazy hobby, activity or sport he chooses, but a tiny part of me hopes that he chooses one of my favorites. For example, I want him to quote Star Wars and memorize the statistics of every baseball player. You know… the basics.
My wife learned this the hard way. When she and I first started dating, she had little understanding of my obsession with baseball. The first time I attended a baseball game with her, I briefly considered playing it cool, but I knew that she needed to see the real me. It was going to be scary, but she needed to see it. Still, I eased her into the experience by giving her ice cream in a mini-helmet.
During the fifth inning, we could hear children rustle behind us as a beach ball was tossed back and forth. Adults smacked the ball from section to section as their kids giggled and chased. I looked at my future wife and encouraged her to participate in the longtime stadium tradition. “You should hit it. It’s your first game. You have to hit it.” She was not tempted, and politely declined.
“But what if it comes to you? Just hit it.”
This pleading continued for minutes, as the ball buzzed back and forth above our heads. I am still not sure if she got caught up in the moment as the crowd cheered, or if she simply realized that this meant a lot to me. She flashed a broad smile, stood up, and swung at the ball.
I knew immediately that the ball was going to land on the field. She hit it REALLY hard. I also knew that it was tradition for the crowd to “boo” a person that hit a beach ball onto the field. I instinctively stood up, pointed at my future wife, and booed. I booed until the next batter came up to the plate.
That is the story of how my marriage almost never happened. Luckily, she eventually forgave me. She even tolerates baseball. I would love to say that I have learned my lesson, and that I will never again try to push my interests on another person.
Yet here I am, dancing to Thriller with an infant. Good luck, little guy.