Katniss, The Avengers and Me

It’s been more than 14 years since my wife and I became parents. And, during all that time, you’d think I’d have gotten the hang of this whole “dad” thing.

I haven’t.

Not totally, anyway.

But there are times when I show flashes of being something more than just a human ATM machine.

For example, a couple of months ago, our 10-year-old daughter begged me to let her go see “The Hunger Games.”

She didn’t know anything about the movie except that tween singing sensation Taylor Swift contributed a song to its soundtrack. She was worried that I wouldn’t let her go because the movie is rated PG-13.

Having a “Swifty” in the house means I know a few of Taylor Swift’s songs about mean boys by heart.  But sitting through a movie just to hear her newest song about her latest heartbreak didn’t appeal to me.  I was, however, vaguely aware that the movie was based on a book and just grateful it wasn’t “Twilight.”

“Tell you what,” I told my daughter.  “Let’s get the book and if you can read it by the time the movie comes out next week, we’ll go.”

We read it together and I admit I was a little worried that the violent, dystopian world that Katniss Everdeen and her fellow tributes inhabit might be a little too much for a 10-year-old.  But at the risk of seeming self-congratulatory, I didn’t need to fear a thing.

Our daughter has always been a reader, but now she’s voracious. She devoured “The Hunger Games” plus the other books in the trilogy.  And, when we saw the movie, she didn’t even comment on the Taylor Swift song.

A strong girl is now inspiring her.  She wants to take up archery and I’ve even learned how to braid her hair just like Katniss’s.

Our daughter’s increased love for a good book isn’t the only sign that I may not be a total failure.

The other day, I gave our son a choice — he could either see the popular superhero movie “The Avengers” in the company of one of his friends or he could wait a couple of days and see it with me.

“I’ll see it with you, Dad,” he said in an almost off-hand way.

Our son is a teenager, so for him to willingly agree to be seen publicly with me at this point is … well, it’s unusual.  Normally, he’d rather have his fingernails pulled out with a rusty pair of pliers.

I know it’s only a matter of time before our kids strike out on their own. To underscore the point, my neighbor’s son left home for the first time this week.

I’m looking forward to that happening about as much as I’m looking forward to paying the air conditioning bill this summer.

But it won’t be long before things cool off, again.

The leaves will change.

They’ll fall to the ground and then we’ll turn the heat on to keep autumn’s chill outdoors where it belongs.

Snow will fall and then spring rains will spark the renewal process over again.

That’s the way of it.

The years will go by fast.

So while there is still time before our kids leave home, I’ll take what I can get and try not to take it personally if my son decides rusty pliers are the way to go.


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