I’m not sure why you project your insecurities onto YOUR children, but I do it so I’ll have little carbon copies of myself running around. It comforted me to know my anxieties and character flaws will live on for generations in little mini Ricks.
Imagine my disappointment to learn my sons are actually independent people who like things other than pre-prequel Star Wars and Wilco albums between the years 1996 and 2004.
This whole Hip Hop dance thing is the clearest example. Unlike virtually every other activity we’ve forced them into, they simply love Hip Hop dance class. They look forward to it every week. They talk about it constantly. And they break out into little dance moves spontaneously around the kitchen island while I’m cooking.
When Diana announced the boys would be participating in a big dance recital at the local high school, I seemed to be the only one who felt the need to have a panic attack. They were pumped.
I tried to figure out why they weren’t panicked about the performance without making them panicked about the performance.
“Isn’t the idea of dancing in front of a bunch of people terrifying? Don’t you want to die?”
On the night of the event, I drove to the high school filled with dread. Not for the boys, but because I was worried about making my way to the auditorium without an altercation with some teens.
I found a seat next to Chris, our neighbor dad, whose daughters were also hip hop enthusiasts. He wordlessly handed me the nights’ program. The kids’ performance would take place in the intermission of a huge talent show of twenty-eight acts. Twenty. Eight.
The worst mistake I made that night was counting the number of acts. While watching spoken word poetry or uncomfortably sexualized teenager dancing, I would shout in my head, “Get off the stage Number Eight! Get off the stage Number Eight!”
Around number ten, Luca came crawling over the audience to lie in my lap. I wondered if this would happen. I wondered if Luca would contract some kind of stage fright and make me take him home. I felt conflicted. I didn’t want him to be scared. But at the same time, it comforted me that my anxiety would live for another generation.
“Hey buddy. Are you scared?” I said. “It’s ok to be scared. In fact, we can go home right now and play Xbox. You like Xbox, don’t you?”
“No Dad, I’m not scared. I’m bored,” he said flatly.
Irritated by his lack of Hamannness, I forced him to go back and sit with his dance troop or dance posse or whatever they call it.
When the moment finally came, it was marvelous. They were a sea of bright green shirts, flopping their arms and legs to the music. The crowd gave them a standing ovation and Marcus was called out by the MC as being a positive force in the community. The moms in the crowd all fell in love with him all over again.
And the very second they left the stage, I pounced on them and dragged them to the car to head home.