Pigskin and Ponies

The number one joy of fatherhood? The minions.

When you become a dad, you have 18-22 years to create a little mini-me—mold a pint-size henchman to do your bidding (until they turn 7), take part in your hobbies and, at least for a week or two, they will want to be just like you. This is a great thing, because what dad wouldn’t want to raise someone who embraces your ideals, interests and love of processed spray cheese? Sure, some fathers may encourage their children to develop their own loves and joys, but that’s just silly. Better to stamp out any individualism while you have the chance, I say.

Oh, the process is not perfect. My children, now that they’re nearly grown, have shown a disturbing tendency to display their own personality traits and enjoy their own hobbies and such. But through patience, tenacity and strategically-timed bribes, I’ve been able to force—er, to encourage them to share some of my interests. Which means that I never, ever have to watch a laughably bad movie alone.

Emily has been particularly good at embracing her dad’s passions and hobbies and quirks. We run together.We watch horrible History Channel shows together.  We like lots of the same foods, enjoy the same old movies and even show the same alarming driving tendencies.

 But one area where I have, admittedly, failed is when it comes to football.

Colin, my oldest, took to football right away. We rarely miss the opportunity to watch a Denver Broncos game together. But whenever we tune the telly to the game, Emily runs from the room, as if she was a vampire and the opening kickoff was a ray of sunshine. Even during the Super Bowl, she retreats to another room to read. To read! Can you imagine?

I’ve asked her to watch a game with us. I’ve cajoled. I’ve pleaded. I even took her to a game in person once—which, now that I think about it, might’ve been my undoing.

As we sat in the stands, I tried to explain to Emily that the offensive team (the guys with the football) were trying to get a first down. They had three chances, I said, maybe four, to push the ball ahead 10 yards. She listened somberly to my explanation and seemed ever-so-slightly interested.

“What happens when they get a first down?”

“Well,” I said, “they try to get another one.”

She stared at me a minute and scrunched up her nose. “This is the dumbest game ever,” she said.

 This football season, I’m trying a new tactic: Deal-making. I told her that, if I sat through two episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with her (yes, she’s 19, but she still likes her My Little Pony), she’d watch a Broncos game with me.

I’ve kept my end of the bargain. I’ve seen two episodes and sat through a bunch more besides. I know that Rarity likes to make dresses, Fluttershy can get really stern when she wants to and I can now sing the theme song in the shower.

Not that I do, of course. And if my wife says she’s heard me, she’s lying.

Turns out, I didn’t just successfully foist some of my interests on Emily: I’ve also, unfortunately, given her a tendency to try to foist her interests on other people—including me.

I guess two can play at this minion thing.