Monday, August 19, 2013

The truth about taking a two-year-old to a baseball game

One of the many things social media has done to young (and inexperienced) parents such as me is that it has given us daily access to compare what we are doing to pretty much everyone else we know in the world.

I like to consider myself a realist when it comes to what Elliot can and can’t do and a skeptic to about 90 percent of what I see on Facebook. We see friends with kids younger than Elliot claiming to take their children to full-length movies, elaborate trips to Disney World and Six Flags, children’s museums and numerous Rangers’ games. They all post idyllic pictures, much like what I posted at the top of this blog, and it looks like the perfect situation.

While I marvel at what I see on Facebook, I take it with a grain of salt. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I am staunch in my stance that I will not force Elliot into any of these elaborate adventures until he proves to me that he is capable of sitting still for more than five minutes at a time. But thanks to a perfect set of events, on Saturday night we found ourselves at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.

Now I am going to tell you what it is really like.

A good friend and fellow baseball fanatic has a mini season-ticket plan to the Frisco Roughriders. He called me this weekend and said he was planning to be out of town with his wife, celebrating their anniversary, and offered them to me, free. This was a great set up – second-row tickets right down the third-base line, a free parking pass and access to the all-you-can-eat pavilion. Since the ballpark is ten minutes from my house, this really was a can’t-lose proposition.

All day Elliot was so excited to go. I tried as best I could to get him in the right frame of mind with genius tidbits like “Now, Elliot, you have to be good when we get there” and “when we are in our seats, you need to be still.” I guess it’s pretty funny that I thought these would resonate with a two-year-old.

The game started at 7:00, and we arrived about an hour early to take it all in and get our free food. When we parked the car the first battle started. Elliot had carried a small inflatable soccer ball to the car and was now determined that his enjoyment of the game would be severely hampered if he couldn’t bring it with him into the park. After a short battle I won, and the ball stayed in the car. Elliot expressed his dissent to my decision by crying, but he got over it fast.

Upon entering the ballpark, objective one was to get a photo for Facebook (we are as guilty as anyone else). With a little coaxing, we convinced him to put on his Rangers hat, which he normally refuses to wear, and quickly posed for our photo. As soon as it was taken, Elliot dispatched the hat and started demanding to be put down so he could run around. The rest of the trip over to the pavilion consisted of Lauren and me passing him back and forth while he struggled to escape.

We got our food, and I have to commend the Roughriders—it was delicious. We sat on picnic benches and dug in. About halfway through dinner Elliot saw that just adjacent to where we were eating was a playground, and at that moment we lost him. He quickly announced, “I’m done” and started trying to wiggle out of his seat. Lauren and I bravely tried for about three more minutes to keep eating our meals, and finally I volunteered to take him over to the playground. He had a blast. We let him play right until time for first pitch, and when I went extract him from the play equipment, you guessed it—another fit ensued.

We got to our seats just in time for the national anthem, during which he loudly announced  “I WANT WATER!” This got a few laughs from those around us.

The game started and before there were two outs in the top of the first, Elliot was on the ground trying to crawl under my seat to the aisle. When I grabbed him, a loud protest ensued. We tried a few times to get him situated, but to no avail. By the bottom of the first, we were back on the playground. Lauren and I took shifts watching the game and watching him until about the 5th inning, when we were completely out of ideas and headed to the car.

But if you look at my Facebook page this morning, you’ll see that picture, along with the description: “Elliot’s first baseball game.” The post already has dozens of “likes” and several comments, and I’d like to think every parent of a two-year-old that I am friends with is secretly thinking, “How did they pull that off?”

Jordan Echols is a Communication & Image Zone Manager with Texas Health Resources and Dad to Elliot. 

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