When August was four months old, the Phillies won the World Series. The Phils had won once before, in October of 1980, when my husband was four months old. Chris spent his childhood in love with the Philadelphia Phillies. And he went into his adult Philadelphia fandom with great commitment.
So, of course, baby August donned his Phillies sweatshirt and hat. And we cheered like crazy. We brought that kid out to the TV so we could say he had been there when the Phils finally did it, when the Philadelphia sports “curse” was finally broken.
Here’s the thing: Chris’ dad and grandparents are from northern New Jersey. Of course they’re Yankees fans. But my husband grew up in Philadelphia. He cheered for the home team. And if we had stayed there in that house we bought six years ago, I have no doubt August would be growing up a Phillies fan too.
But, three weeks into our new life in San Francisco, the Giants made the World Series. So, despite our family love for the Phillies, we turned on the TV to watch the Giants play. August saw posters all over town. His friends wore hats and sweatshirts. And, then, one night before bed, he said it: “Daddy, you’re not a Giants fan, because you’re not from San Francisco. But I am! And I like the Giants best.”
Our kids don’t have the same lives we had.
I’m learning that more and more. Right now I’m researching public schools here in the city. And I’m telling you, city schools are not the same as schools in, say, Amarillo. They are urban. They are gated. They don’t have grass (most of the time). That’s hard for me to get my head around. I loved having grass at school when I was a kid. Sure, some of us played on the blacktop jumping rope. But most of us ran in the grass or dug holes when we weren’t supposed to. The boys in third grade had an ongoing soccer match in the field. I’m scared of sending my boys to a school without grass.
Our kids are growing up with us as their parents. In a city. One of the most beautiful cities in the world and also one of the most broken. Everything is extreme here. That’s why I love this town. That’s why this town scares me so deeply.
August is learning to ride his bike down city sidewalks toward busy streets. And he walks with Chris to the hardware store a block over. We went to one of the most beautiful aquariums in the country yesterday afternoon. It’s a five-block walk from our house and we’ve been there four times since we moved here. I love that for my kids. This is the life we’re giving them.
We are giving them a completely new life. Not mine, not Chris’. So if they’re Giants fans or city boys who jump at the sight of bugs or deep appreciators of the local food movement…If they are beautifully shaped by the diversity of their city schools, but have less opportunities to play pick up soccer games in third grade…If they learn to see the beautiful in the faces of the broken we meet on the streets…If they turn out different than me or Chris, but made generous by the best things this city offers, then who am I to wish my life on theirs?
This is their childhood anyway. They never asked for mine.