Mr. 70 Percent: “Well, it looks like it’s The Prince’s baby!” Daughter: “What? How does she know?” Mr. 70 Percent: “They got a paternity test and she told Chuck it’s the Prince’s. But we never actually saw the results. She could be lying!”
I’d be lying if I said their exchange completely surprised me. My husband is a hardcore metrosexual who appreciates trashy TV; after all, our courtship was built in large part on Monday night viewings of Melrose Place. And naturally, he enjoys ogling attractive actresses like Leighton Meester and Blake Lively. But I did find it somewhat disturbing to discover that he spends part of his waking hours thinking about the paternity of a devious television character’s unborn child. Also, must he excitedly discuss out-of-wedlock pregnancy with our teenage daughter, even if it is by the Prince of Monaco?
One of the things I love about Mr. Seventy Percent is that he has always gone out of his way to connect with each of our children by taking an interest in his or her passion du jour. This means he has spent countless hours building model rockets, studying weaponry online and browsing paintball stores, as well as putting stuffed animals to bed and memorizing the names of all Thomas the Tank Engine’s friends. He and our first-born have always shared a special bond, perhaps born of their mutual affinity for hyper-organization; they pored over the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books together–not to mention the Levenger catalogue–and regularly attend concerts and sporting events. Gossip Girl is just one more cultural touchpoint they share–a mindless, entertaining way to spend time together.
But one of the benefits of having your kids grow older is that you get to reassert your own interests and stop pretending to enjoy theirs, whether it’s Candyland or Raffi. Though I’ve never been very good at hiding my disdain for Chuck E. Cheese, my kids have, over the years, figured out what activities I’ll likely say “yes” to–Scrabble, a jigsaw puzzle, a hike, baking cookies, Parks and Recreation–and which I’d rather avoid: Monopoly, Plaster Fun Time, Sponge Bob, playing “house,” any amusement and/or water park.
My husband, too, has moved beyond catering to the kids’ interests and succeeded in getting them to sign on to some of his own, including golf, poker and American Pickers. But if Mr. 70 Percent has given up pretending to like what the kids like, it can mean only one thing: he actually enjoys Gossip Girl. No doubt that only makes my daughter love him more.