“Baseball is only for a minute but what you pour into your children is for a lifetime,” Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers right fielder
When I told my seven-year-old son we were being treated to a Cubs game he emerged from his latest Lego/Minecraft mash-up and said, “I don’t want to go.”
It felt like a punch in the gut. Not matching my enthusiasm is one thing; completely invalidating it makes one question their worth as a parent.
I blamed the Cubs. They’ve had a losing season for all of his sentient years. He was a baby when they didn’t. I’ve made it a point to bring him and his younger sister to a game every year, even when they were babies, which in hindsight was a lot easier to deal with than them asking if it’s almost over after the third inning.
As a reasonable man, I’ve made peace with the Cubs a long time ago. Low expectations will translate to a good time. So then I blamed my liberal progressive self. Two years ago I took them to a game on the Southside, to the Cell, to see the Sox. My fingers burn as I type this. I felt it my duty to give them a choice. Choosing between two losers produces the same result. Still, I bought them t-shirts, hot dogs, soda. We played in the Kids Zone and walked around. Tickets were cheap and three solo homeruns were hit to our section in left field. They didn’t complain once. My daughter loved it; when I say Wrigley my son says, The Cell. I’ve taken them to Class A games in Kane County, where there’s a bounce house in right field and fireworks after the game; where I caught a foul ball and instilled an expectation in the boy that winning at a baseball game means catching a ball in the stands.
When I caught my breath I asked why.
“Cause baseball is boring. To watch.”
At least he qualified it. It is boring. The company makes it fun. I tried this line of reasoning.
I thought of riding in the cab of my grandpa’s pickup game to Comiskey, of that strange summer and that strange kid who lived on the busy road who took me to three Cubs games, where we packed into the backseat of his mother’s boyfriend’s Camaro. I thought of all the games from my youth and couldn’t remember one detail of the game, but can remember vividly the excitement of getting to a game, of it being an event.
I thought of how he hustles on the field, all the games of catch, helping coach his team, and his enjoyment at the execution of a play, the fist pump when they turned one.
Feeling like a failure as a father I figured I’d descend further.
“Fine. Don’t go.”
“Fine,” he said.
My daughter perked up. “So Calvin’s not going?”
“Can I bring my friend?”
Well played, dear.
My son finally looked up from his creation. “I’ll go, if that’s what we’re doing.”
That’s what we’re doing.
Go Cubs. Providing teachable moments on learning to lose for 105 years.
Thanks to Jim Higley “Bobblehead Dad”, Dove Men+Care and Major League Baseball’s partnership with Big League Dads, which celebrates engaged fatherhood. Looking forward to the game and meeting virtual dad blogging friends in reality. @TheRockFather, @JimHigley @DiaryDad @DaddysGrounded @DadonRun @FanDads.