I recently took both of my children, a 5-year-old and a 5-month-year-old, to Yankee Stadium for a baseball game. I am not a Yankees fan (go Red Sox!) and neither are my sons (if they know what’s good for them!) but I am a fan of my children, and of baseball, and of going to baseball games.
I should say, “I was a fan” of those things. After this trip, that’s all over now. I might have to start following soccer.
Introducing my kids to sports — both playing them and watching them — is one of the stereotypical perks of being a parent. I was looking forward to it as much as the next red-blooded American male. Among the first baby shower gifts both of my kids received were onesies and booties with Red Sox logos on them, and the very first shirt I personally picked out for my now 5-year-old
proudly featured a Miami Dolphins helmet.
Like most stuff with children, it all sounds a lot better in your head. Then you take a baby to a sporting event, and with every swell of the crowd they get startled and start screaming bloody murder, or you enroll your 4-year-old in soccer and after one errant kick in the shin it’s impossible to get him to take the field for the rest of the season. But persevere we do, because we’re parents, and because we know that very few things come easily when you have children, and because we can’t teach our kids that it’s OK to give up, and because we spent a lot of money on this stuff and you’re goddamn right you’re going to finish it!
I have taken my 5-year-old to about a half-dozen baseball games, the bulk of which were at Fenway Park, an absolute landmark, and the best ballpark in the country for people under 5-feet-tall who don’t have babies on their laps. Every experience got a little better for him — not only did the noise become less of an issue, he started getting to attend with friends, and also he knew they had ice cream there. And hot dogs. And popcorn, and peanuts, and cotton candy, and hats, and souvenirs, and, thankfully, beer. Please god let the guy come back around with the huge beers — I don’t care that it’s 25 bucks for 6 ounces of Coors Light. I need it.
The only thing worse than the packing you have to do in order to survive bringing two children (including a baby!) to a baseball game (if you saw me walk out the door you would have thought I was headed out to take on Mount Everest) is the packing you have to do in order to bring them, and everything they’ve procured, home. The good news is that you end up buying them so much stuff — either to spread the joy of the experience, to indoctrinate them into liking your favorite team, or simply to keep them from screaming that they didn’t get something someone else in the crowd of 30,000 people got — that your wallet takes up a lot less space.
Again, this is all great in theory. It’s less great when you’re actually there, and your kid barely spends a second watching the game because he’s too busy horsing around and you barely spend a second watching the game because you’re too busy stopping your kid from horsing around.
But hey, at least you still spent a small fortune on tickets for a game he didn’t pay attention to and doesn’t understand, and you had to leave before it was halfway over because he either threw up, passed out, or melted down.