As I’ve previously mentioned, Noah is very busy this spring which, by extension, makes the adults around him busy, too: acting as time-management coaches, bedtime monitors and taxi cab drivers. For the most part, I don’t mind the additional duties; they are the tasks of parenthood after all; part of what I signed up for when I decided to become a parent over twelve years ago.
I abhor going to Little League (baseball) games, though. Even when my kid’s team is playing and even more so when my kid is pitching–which is sometimes the carrot that gets dangled in front me–as if watching Noah throw a ball seventy three times in one hour is somehow more appealing then watching him stand in a field (for an hour), waiting to catch one. Because he has eighteen games scheduled during the next six weeks you’d think I’d make peace with being there. A more gracious parent might even embrace this game her child loves and learn the rules and be able, with somewhat accurate precision, to report on the statistics of an inning or series. Not me, though. Noah’s going to be lucky if I know the score at the end of each game.
There’s a certain amount of sacrifice parents make for their offspring, of course. Some of it is obligatory: providing food, shelter & clothing (often at the expense of one’s own palate or fashion sense) and some of it is borne from a particular child’s particular sensibilities. Kids have varying interests and by default, a parent ends up spending a certain amount of time participating in activities related to said interest of said pursuit chosen wholly (or nearly wholly) by their kid. When a passion is shared or passed on from parent-to-child all is well–as in the case here, with baseball and Noah’s father. Noah loves the game (apparently baseball is a game, not a sport). He and his dad have favorite teams and favorite players and follow their careers as though they are close friends. They enjoy long afternoons listening to games on the radio and playing catch and watching clips of memorable moments from years ago.
Living in New York as we do, it is impossible not to know what a Yankee is, but besides knowing that they recently built a brand new multi-million (billion?) dollar stadium in the Bronx, I can’t tell you anything about the team or much more about the sport, ahem….game …in general terms. Quite frankly I don’t want to tell you anything more because baseball, with all of its nuances and statistics and particularities–the very idiosyncrasies that make it so spellbinding for Noah–is about as interesting to me as watching dishes dry in the sink. (If only Noah had picked poetry as his hobby…)
Have you ever been to a Little League game? Not only do they hold up as bastions for some parents’ latent competitiveness and general asshole-ery (I’ve witnessed more than one adult-initiaited screaming match on the field about grave matters such as…sunglasses), they are excruciatingly long and utterly indistinguishable from one another. Noah had three games last weekend (3!) which devoured more than seven hours of daylight and started to chip away at my will to live and I’m still not sure how the second game was cause for celebration and the third for exasperation even though they lost both of them.
I was never a parent who enjoyed playing with my kid. Not that I didn’t like to be with him, (I loved taking walks in the park with him and chasing birds or going to museums or reading stories or…napping) but talking in a squeaky voice with a puppet on my hand? Or playing hide and seek in the living room? Or pretending to be an Ewok to his Chewbacca? I rather have eaten a carton of worms. When Noah was a toddler and suggested that we play a nice long game of Candyland, (or for the love of Pete, soul-crushing Chutes & Ladders), I’d make up an excuse to do something else (anything else!) quicker than he could unfold the confection-colored board. I tried to fake it a few times and found myself so disagreeable by my third turn flicking the red-arrowed spinner that I vowed to never play again.
I guess that’s what attending baseball games (or not attending them) is for me now. At 40, faking it is no longer an option–even when it comes to (especially when it comes to) parenting my kid. With who knows how many precious moments left, why spend so many of the recreational ones doing something that makes me want to weep with regret? That’s certainly not the example I want to set for my kid.
I do really love my kid, though, so the compromise I’ve come up with this baseball season is this: I’ll come to the games and watch him when he’s up at bat and make sure to pay attention close enough to know the score (or at least pay close enough attention to ask a parent who’s following along) but I get to bring my book or the dog to walk on the hills behind the field and when the game is over, instead of spending another hour breaking down RBIs and ERAs we’ll go out for ice cream.
From time to time I might even bring a poem to read to him.