My odd son

November 12, 2016

Obviously, there is no single gene “for” math aptitude or punctuality or interest in rainforests. But if Mom and Dad both exhibit a certain trait, shouldn’t the apple fall relatively close to the tree?

That’s what I used to think. Then I became a father.

Two of my defining interests throughout my life, evident from an early age, have been creative writing and competitive sports. My son Phil, now 10, is almost completely indifferent to both.

Here’s me at age 8 or 9, writing about baseball, my favorite sport at the time, while vacationing at my grandparents’ house in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Marathon base ball poem

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon enjoy the fun,
c’mon, c’mon, c’mon and hit a home run.

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon and steal a base,
c’mon, c’mon, let me see that happy face.

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon and catch that ball,
c’mon, c’mon, c’mon and catch ’em all.

C’mon, c’mon, even if your average is low,
c’mon, work hard, and you can be a pro.

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon and hit that ball,
c’mon, c’mon, c’mon and hit it over the wall.

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon leap high in the air,
c’mon, c’mon, c’mon ‘n catch that ball, it’s fair.

C’mon, c’mon, throw the ball up high,
c’mon, c’mon, throw it way up in the sky.

C’mon, c’mon, throw it right into his glove,
C’mon, baseball, I’m in love!

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon enjoy the game,
c’mon, c’mon, c’mon and be elected to the Hall Of Fame.

While it’s not the work of a young Tennyson, some craftsmanship is evident, for example, in the commitment to the “c’mon, c’mon” cadence and the clean end rhymes. I proudly shared the poem with Grandma Nancy and relished her rave review.

In contrast, here is Phil writing about a summer camping trip that he basically enjoyed:

First we drove to the place. Then we ate lunch. Then we hiked. Then we set up camp. Then we ate dinner. Then we slept. Then we ate breakfast. Then we hiked. Then we drove to lunch. Then we drove home.

When asked to provide more detail about some part of the trip, Phil offered this:

After we set up the camp Leila set up the stove named the dragon fly. Then Leila made macaroni. And we ate it. Then she made a rice dish we ate it. finally we had roasted marshmallows for dessert.

Notice the apparent lack of interest in telling the story with any humor, any intrigue, or any flair whatsoever. Which is fine — LOTS of people find writing more tedious than enjoyable. And Phil is creative in other ways (especially with Legos). Still, I would have expected him to inherit some smidgen of my wordsmithing tendencies.

Likewise, we differ greatly in our attitude toward sports, as encapsulated in this photo from last Sunday’s PNTF cross-country meet (courtesy of Win Van Pelt):

PNTF 2016

Dad kicks fiercely toward the finish while Sonny Boy (in hat) looks away, uninterested.

Again, it’s fine that he is not (currently) a jock — just surprising to me.

Of course, we do have a few things in common: a love of soft blankets and sweat pants, for example. And similar views on Donald Trump.

That’s right — the man who has fractured the country into bitter factions has brought my son and me closer together.

Here’s Phil reacting to Donald Trump during the first presidential debate: “It seems like the only thing that he cares about is money.”

Weeks later, here he is, trying to explain Trump’s plan to make America great again: “It seems like Trump wants to repair America … by bombing it.” (I’m not sure exactly what Phil meant by that, but I took it to mean that “draining the swamp,” Trump-style, might do more harm than good.)

And here’s his response to a classmate’s claim that Trump will do some good things, like lowering taxes: “His tax cuts are for rich people. What about an African family working the entire day for 20 dollars?”

Preach on, Brother Phil!


  1. Great story Greg. Your son does have something in common with now, but at whose expense? Hope that “he” brings others together for the good of the people and the good of the country. See you in a few miles…roy

  2. […] Explorations of life's curves and straightaways. « My odd son […]

  3. Wow Greg! Your son has a future as he does listen and analyze. But, I think you and he live in a bubble. You need to expand your circle of acquaintances. In my large circle, I’ve heard undercurrents for the last 7 years that describe President Obama as the ‘divider in chief’. The divisions into factions started long before Trump entered into the fray. Also, lots of people couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a person whose foreign policy record led to destabilization of both the Egyptian and Libyan governments. Also, she was in on the ground floor of what most people in the USA consider a disaster: The Iran Nuclear Presidential Executive Order (it’s not a treaty, as the Senate would have quashed it by about 30 votes). Not to mention her use of a unsecured server with classified material and lies and lies and lies about that. Or her inaction about Benghazi and mutiple lies about that.

    Certainly the Democrats shouldn’t have connived to make her the Dem candidate. She is DEEPLY flawed, and there were many better possibilities. I certainly don’t think much of the actions of the Republican candidate, but people are forced to make painful choices. Does one vote for the known disaster, or the unknown possible disaster?

    Please read the two articles written by one of my favorite economist, Thomas Sowell. They are Painful Choices I and II at: http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/

    Best Wishes! I was intrigued as were you at the picture of you straining for the finish and Phil uninterested.


    • Hi Bob — You are absolutely right that Phil and I reside in a liberal bubble. One of my take-aways from this election is that I need to escape from it more often. In that spirit, I followed the links to Sowell that you posted before and now. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know enough about foreign affairs to really assess his take on Clinton’s SoS record. However, I have been listening to both candidates talk all summer and fall, and have a decent sense of their understanding of and regard for constitutional and judicial precedent. I have read others’ ideas and drawn my own conclusions, which I stand behind. Sowell, in my view, is being unreasonable, bordering on hysterical, when he says things like, “Hillary Clinton is already on record as wanting a Supreme Court that will overturn recent decisions protecting free speech and upholding the right to bear arms. Everything in her past shows a contempt for law that makes her a very credible threat to dismantle the Constitution, whenever it gets in the way of her agenda.” Wanting to close the gun show loophole for background checks is NOT the same thing as wanting to repeal the 2nd Amendment!

  4. Hi Greg — Ms Clinton is on record as saying Heller was wrongly decided by the Supreme Court. That decision affirmed the 2nd Amendment’s natural right to self defense and agreed that there is an individual right to keep and bear arms. There is no such thing as a ‘gun show loophole.’ All firearm dealers already must conduct a background check on the prospective buyer before selling her a firearm. For a private dealer, she is breaking the law if she sells a firearm to person who is not legally allowed to own a firearm. There are already laws covering what she claims are ‘loopholes.’ Ms Clinton is also on record wanting to overturn the Citizens United decision and limit our free speech. Thomas Sowell and I (and you) have every right to worry about a President Hillary Clinton wanting to dismantle the Constitution. Please do additional reading on the First and Second Amendments to completely understand them. One must remember that the Bill of Rights enumerates INDIVIDUAL rights, and puts limitations on the Federal Government. Best Wishes to you and Phil and Leila. — Bob

    • Hi Bob — I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on a lot of this. Citizens United, as you know, was about whether corporations can give money to specific candidates. While this is a form of free speech, it has nothing to do with what individuals can or cannot say. The attempt to regulate how campaign money is spent does not strike me as dangerously suppressive or nefarious. As for gun regulations, I find this a reasonable summary of the issue, with appropriate sources cited: http://www.factcheck.org/2016/05/trump-distorts-clintons-gun-stance/. Note that Clinton is “on the record” multiple times as saying the 2nd Amendment should be preserved.

  5. HI Greg — Yes, I’ve already seen and read all you have posted about Secretary Clinton’s positions, and would wager that I am far more informed about statements from both sides of the argument for and against ‘gun-control’ than you are. My feeling is that her support for the 2nd Amendment is similar to a MLB team owner giving full support to her manager, and then firing him the next day. We are not progressing on this, so it is probably best if we just drop the subject and continue with other subjects. Again, Best Wishes to you and your family and Happy Thanksgiving! — Bob

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