So here is a topic that never crossed my mind, even in passing, during my entire 37 years on this planet until it became the center of the universe in the last six months: golf.
Really. Golf. I could not care less, could not be less interested in, could not be more baffled by the appeal of golf. Hitting a little ball with a metal stick until it falls in a little hole. Please understand that I truly mean it when I say about golf: What. Ever.
But Jack, my quirky and intense 9-year-old, has discovered golf. His uncle got him some clubs for his birthday awhile back, he started idly hitting balls at the park last year, then graduated to the driving range, then to nine holes, then to 18.
Within a handful of months, he was a total goner with a wicked swing and an uncanny ability to judge the breaks. And now it's all golf, all the time, at my house.
In my yard, which is a pretty standard subdivision yard consisting of about one-third of an acre, there are holes. With cups in them. One even has a flag. This is the putting green, I am told. So I see no yard-of-the-month designation from the neighborhood association in our future. (Though I can watch putting anytime I want.)
In my living room, displayed in retina-searing high-definition pretty much incessantly, is always either the latest golf game thingy or a movie about some guy named Bobby Jones whose life story I now know by heart because that movie is constantly on TV.
I walked through the living room recently and saw that, yet again, Bobby Jones was taking heat from his wife about how playing golf just tears him up emotionally and physically, and he was explaining, yet again, how he is just driven to win and he just has to hit that little ball with that metal stick, blah blah blah.
"Is this on again?" I whined. "Why is this always on? What kind of dumb channel plays this movie so much?"
"It's the Golf Channel," my husband and our son intoned, roused momentarily from their golf-zombie fog.
There's a whole channel for this? A whole channel for golf? A whole channel, y'all. Amazing.
Now you might be thinking that my husband is a golfer and that he turned our son into one. But no. My son is the one doing the converting here. My husband is a whitewater kayaker, a mountain biker, a guy who had dreadlocks when we met and who never picked up a golf club until our son developed this obsession.
Do you know what he is doing right now? My husband? At 9:30 p.m. as I tap away in our little office in the corner of the kitchen? He is watching golf.
"It's 'Big Break,' " he calls to me when I ask him what's on that retina-searing TV he loves so much. "On the Golf Channel."
A whole channel, y'all.
We went to the beach earlier this month. Sun, sand, swimming pools, waves, tropical drinks. And my son's favorite part of our whole vacation was the day he and his father played 18 holes at Hidden Lakes. Also, he really liked the low-tide times of day, when he could go dig holes on the beach and practice putting on the smooth sand.
"Is my sand wedge in the car?" he asked as we drove toward Florida. "I'll need my sand wedge."
I asked him recently, at the end of a day when I had done approximately 4,768 nice things for him (none of them golf-related), if he had enjoyed our day. He kind of nodded. A little.
"You OK?" I asked.
He looked sheepish.
"All I really want, really, is just to play golf," he said.
I sighed a truly classic exasperated-mom sigh - the kind that takes more than nine years to perfect. Jack ducked his head a little.
"I don't think you understand, Mom," he said. "I don't think you understand how much I love to play golf."
Baby, you got that right. I don't understand it at all. But I'll watch it, I'll learn about it, I'll take you to play it, and I'll sit in the sun and act interested while you hit that little ball with that metal stick.
I may never learn to appreciate the game or its channel. (Really. A whole channel?) But if there's one thing I know about parenting, it's to surrender early and strive to at least appreciate what my kids turn out, sometimes inexplicably, to love.
What a mystery they are. What a funny, sweet puzzle this parenting gig turns out to be.
There really ought to be a whole channel about that.
E-mail Mary Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org.