It’s not just that Wolverine is wearing the Cubs helmet. I’m pretty sure that this decorating flourish on the part of Second Son is the result of me making a big deal over Older Boy’s similar display.
No, what’s awesome about this is that I am raising an unabashed, unwavering, unrepentant Cubs fan. I didn’t try to; in fact, we taught a strict “we cheer all Chicago teams, Cubs and Sox” policy during their youth, but our sons — particularly Second — wised up to that hippy-dippy egalitarianism, and are now all about picking a side and standing by it, dammit. Unfortunately for Second, even though he is Chicago born and bred, that upbringing hasn’t given him an appreciation for that famous Chicago axiom: “Don’t back no losers.”
And so, Second just has to grant his loyalty to the Lovable Losers of Wrigleyville. He’s nuts for ’em. Absolutley barmy. Keeps the season schedule posted in his room, tracks each final score, win-loss records (season-to-date and month-to-month) as well as road vs. home records. Hates the White Sox beyond all sense. Always knows how many games behind his Cubbies are.
And they are behind. This is where I can’t tell if I am being a supportive dad (by encouraging a healthy love of team sports), or an abusive dad (by enabling an obsession that perenially breaks the hearts of those afflicted with it). For certain, Second is learning a great deal about perseverance, stuggle, and the seven stages of grief.
On Tuesday, we stayed up past bedtime to watch the Cubs play Detroit, a close game that teetered toward a Cubs victory until a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th sealed their doom. The next day, Second said in a quiet voice, “Daddy, I don’t want to watch the Cubs game tonight. I don’t want to listen to it on the radio or look at it on the computer.”
“I understand,” I said. It hurt to see him hurt. “Let’s play a game instead or something.”
But ten minutes before game time, he reversed himself. He wanted to watch. And they lost again. They lost the next day, too, for a complete sweep by the Tigers.
How did he heal? By rushing home from camp today, dialing up WGN on the tube and hanging on his seat until the final pitch against the White Sox, with a questionable strike call for a 5-4 Cubs victory. We danced and hooted like we knew it all along.
I hope being Cubs fans prompts my boys to live an examined life. With grief comes joy. With victory comes loss. With the hanging breaking ball comes the high, hard heat. We must be really livin’.