It took all of 10 seconds to realize taking our toddlers to the ballpark this weekend might have been a mistake.
Ben suddenly showed signs of a fever. Eli got bored the instant his buttocks hit our reduced price seats and my wife gave me an exasperated look that said, “now I remember why I’m not a baseball fan.”
What was I thinking?
It’s not like we didn’t prepare for battle. My wife dutifully packed a coloring book, some Izze sodas, homemade popcorn and even two baseball gloves – as if my streak of never catching a fly ball at the ballpark was near its end. We mentally plotted out the treats we would buy the boys – cotton candy, shaved ice and maybe a ballpark pretzel.
We arrived with half price tickets – handy tip: you get better deals when your home team is eliminated from playoff contention early. Besides, I love baseball, and I assume my boys inherited that from me. They already got my face shape, the long eyelashes and likely the modest height. How could the heralded “baseball” gene not be part of the genetic package?
We still managed to make the best of a potentially bad situation, in part because the Missus took the boys to the Coors Field play area for a good three innings.
It still begs the question, “why did we bother?” All that work, the prep time, the expense … for what?
Well, I got to carry both Eli and Ben on my shoulders to and from the ballpark, which is part of the Daddy equation I adore. Eli gulped down an entire serving of cotton candy without us having to hose him down like he was a hippie at Woodstock. We tried to teach Eli some social grace tips after he told a homeless man with a cigarette perched on his lip that smoking is bad for you.
Most of all, we went because we should. I’m a firm believer in not letting our children stop our social lives. That doesn’t mean dragging them to cocktail parties armed with fake IDs. I’m learning that every event is a learning experience for the boys – and us. The day after we went to the park Eli said he liked going to Rockies games. That’s something, and perhaps the next time I teach him how to position his wrists while holding a bat he’ll be more receptive.
Bottom line: there’s always the chance the kids will melt down, be it at the ballpark or in our backyard. It’s never fun, or easy, or easily controlled. Every social outing gives us a better sense of how to prepare for the worst and enjoy the best, and our boys are slowly learning the nuances behind being in the public space.
Maybe next time I’ll be able to use my glove after all.