Watching the World Cup with my son

As I write this, my son and daughter are playing with Legos in the other room. I’m sitting on the couch keeping an eye on them while I watch another terrific World Cup game – Netherlands and Australia.

Each World Cup is different. Different hosts, different players and teams. With a four-year cycle, every tournament occurs at different points in our lives.

Four years ago, I had a one-year-old son and a pregnant wife. In fact, we found out we were having a girl – the first in the about 80 years on the Duncan side of the family tree – on the day the U.S. scored twice in the second half to draw against Slovenia. I remember rushing to the sonogram excited about both what I had witnessed and what was about to happen.

So this is my kids’ first true World Cup. My daughter could care less. She showed a small amount of interest before the first game until the national anthems started up. Then she found her dolls.

My son is different, though. At 5, he’s reading and writing and very impressionable. He shows interest in most sports, probably because his dad insists on watching and covering them.

It’s actually pretty amusing at times because he loves watching basketball the most, which is odd because I’m working most nights and it’s not like I spend a ton of time watching it. But he likes the movement, loves Dirk Nowitzki (partially because of the “What day is it” commercials) and forced my wife to turn on this year’s Final Four basketball games while I was in the office.

When we’re watching some game at night and he has to go to bed, the first thing he asks me in the morning was “Who won?” I remember doing the same thing when I was a kid.

But I couldn’t imagine how much he’d be enjoying this World Cup. Maybe I helped the cause by printing out the entire group schedule and pulling out some soccer jerseys from the closet. And soccer has been on our TV as much as possible this past week.

Still, my son has watched stretches of games with me. He picks teams and gets upset when they are losing (He told my wife “I saw the worst soccer game ever” when she came home after Spain’s opening 5-1 loss).

If he’s playing in his room and his team scores, he comes running in to see the replay. If the other team scores, he refuses to come watch the goal, even if I rave about the beauty of it. He’s learning the rules (he plays in GWFSA, but they don’t have cards or goalies or linesmen).

He recognizes Brazil’s Neymar. He’s learning about where countries are on the map and asking questions about previous World Cups. Who won the first one? How did Brazil do in the last Cup? Where does the guy go after he gets red carded? Why are they subbing No. 12 out?

The answers (in case you care): Uruguay, lost in quarterfinals, locker room and because the guy ran five miles in 70 minutes and is dead tired.

Maybe this is just a phase. Maybe when he’s 9 at the next World Cup, he’ll be hooked onto something else like skateboarding or baseball and think his father is lame for loving soccer.

Maybe my daughter will be the one curling up on the couch to watch a match. She’s basically ignored the continuous soccer on TV except for when the Cinderella song “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” comes on during a soccer commercial. She bursts into the room every time thinking one of her favorite movies is playing.

Either way, I’m soaking up the moment right now. My wife and kids were out of town visiting family over the weekend. My son called me late Friday night needing something.

“Who won the Chile-Australia game,” he asked over the phone.

I told him Chile had come out on top, 3-1. That was his team. You could hear the excitement in his voice.