Today’s news:

Raising Cubs fans links daughters to Dad’s past

for The Brooklyn Paper

The start of baseball season is my annual reminder that I am raising my children on foreign soil. I’m immigrant from the Midwest, with a rich Chicagoland heritage — and, as such, I am a Cubs fan. It’s in the blood; there’s nothing I can do.

My daughters, of course, are New Yorkers. No matter how I struggle to share bits of my heritage with them, it’s all just more stuff from Dad to tune out.

So every summer, we head out to see the Cubs when they’re in town against the Mets. It’s not the same as an afternoon at Wrigley Field (or living in Chicago, of course), but the Cubs are the only piece of my boyhood that travels this way.

As I try to sort out for myself what it is I want to share with my progeny, the word history comes to mind. Communal memories, an understanding of where their great-grandparents came from and the lives their kin lived, these all seem important to pass along. When your family stays put, this task is easy, then your daily life takes you past old schools, parks, landmarks of childhood and family stories.

I’m obviously not alone in feeling that my children are separated from their family’s past. Recent Census data shows at least half of all New York City residents weren’t born here.

Obviously, my girls don’t complain about not being from Chicago. Brooklyn provides wonderful adventures and has been a vibrant setting for their early years. We’ve made annual excursions to Coney Island and festivals in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; birthday parties at Two Boots and Puppetworks in Park Slope. These are all great, but I’d like to be able to share with them the landscape of my youth and history as well.

So I turn to the Cubs. We follow them in the paper and on TV. We buy baseball cards each year, sorting them for the familiar red “C” on the caps. My daughters have overpriced, “official” jerseys I bought them with “Sosa” and “Wood” on the backs. I whoop and holler at the games and enforce what might be termed the “Go Cubs” rule — root for them or go home.

But let’s face it, making my kids cheer for a team isn’t the same as passing on the essence of my past. It’s a lazy substitute for the rich history of my family, which spent many generations in the Chicago area.

There’s no easy answer. Vacations lead us to family and friends elsewhere, and even if I did take my children to Chicago, we’d end up doing the tourist stuff. Family photos and stories fill some of the gap, but they’re always in my voice, which the kids tune out regularly. So I’m left with the Cubs — and the hope that, years from now, my daughters will take their children to a game and say, “Your grandfather was a big fan. You know he grew up in Chicago and so did his parents and their parents, your great-great grandparents…”

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
leave your kids alone and let them follow their own interests.
April 4, 2011, 10:47 am
Pete from Prospect Heights says:
As another former Chicagoan, you can't rid yourself of Cubbie Blue in your blood. I too am shepherding a couple of young Cubs fans in my household...

The Yankees have spoiled too many New Yorkers. The Mets, well...we'll see what this season brings for them.

To paraphrase Mike Royko -- Rooting for the Yankees is easy, there's no challenge in that. Rooting for the Cubs builds character.

103 years and counting for another Cubs World Series victory...Let's hoist another "W" flag!
April 4, 2011, 11 am
The Duke of from Flatbush says:
You should be arrested for child abuse for forcing your children to follow the Cubs. What kind of monster are you?
;)
April 4, 2011, 8:04 pm
White Sox Fan from Fort Greene says:
Gah, I move to New York, and I STILL can't get away from the Cubs fans! I agree with The Duke: my kids will be White Sox fans :D.
April 5, 2011, 12:12 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Links