I’m beginning to have an understanding of what my father felt when he came home after working all day, grabbed our baseball mitts, and stepped into my room to ask if I wanted to play catch. He would usually find me on the floor of my room, in the midst of a galactic battle between good and evil, Empire and Rebellion. Action figures would range from the floor to my brother and my bunk beds, along book shelves and flying through the air with X-Wings dog-fighting Tie-Fighters.
He’d invite me out for catch, and I’d accept, putting the battles on Hoth or the forest moon of Endor on hold until coming back. We’d then spend the next while chasing balls up and down Sixth Street. I’d throw it over his head or far wide, and duck out of the way of his that were dead center at my chest. I’m sure it was a fairly frustrating experience for him. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying, or that I didn’t care. I think like most young sons, I desperately wanted his approval, and I liked playing baseball. Still do. However, the mitt, bat, and ball didn’t call to me like Jedis, superheroes, or wizards did. Or, still do.
Unfortunately, these things were as alien to my father as, well, aliens. He couldn’t have conceived or even imagined how vast his son’s imagination was, let alone an interest in such trivial things.
And, now that I’m a father, I find myself with two young daughters who have the same view of their father as their grandfather once held. It is inconceivable (the use of that word alone, and the enjoyment I take from using it, is proof alone of my geekiness) to them why I’m drawn to such — in their eyes — silly things, and more so why I desire to expose them to such nonsense.
My daughters are much more practical than I am or ever have been. They love horses. Tangible beasts you can ride, groom, and nurture. They love gymnastics and music. Physical and visceral things they can feel and which exercises their bodies as well as their minds. They love art and camping, bike riding and board games. They don’t see the attraction of droids or Wookiees, kryptonite or power lanterns, and most certainly not shape-shifting snow leopards or telepathic magical dogs.
They are the pragmatic yin to my idealistic and romantic yang.
And I love them for that. Immeasurably so. The way only a man-boy who still believes in magic, extraterrestrials, and the all-encompassing power of goodness can.
But… it does give me a bit of insight into how my Dad must have felt all those years ago when he’d chased his last errant ball down our street and fished it out from beneath a neighbor’s car. When he’d finally acquiesce and say we’re all done playing catch, and watch me run straight to my room and immerse myself into the vast world of my imagination once more. I imagine, as only a product of an overactive imagination can, the sense of melancholy he felt at my lack of passion for the game he loves to this day.
It didn’t make him love me any less, but I’m sure he wished for a bit more for us to connect on. And as my girls grow up much too quickly for my liking, I too find myself grasping for shared interests and passions.
This is why I find myself doing cartwheels across our lawn or letting them braid my hair. Or playing boards games long past bed time, when all I want to do is buy them bags of dice and graph paper. And as long as their passion for ponies and riding continues, there will never be too much manure for me to shovel or stalls to muck.
However, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop longing for them to get the geeky references I utter, or ask me if I could have any super power in the world what would I choose, or maybe just once look me in the eye and say, “May the Force be with you.”
I guess my only solace is in if I ever have grand kids, that maybe being a geek is a recessive condition, and I’ll have some young Padawans to teach these un-pragmatic ways to.
But, then again, I’m not in any rush to venture down that path just yet.