Thursday, June 26, 2008

Baseball with Ellie

As some of you know, I sometimes try to live in quasi movie scenes. The perfect action, at just the right moment and with the most appropriate music or score playing in the background. I am indeed the modern day Clark Griswold. Leah often gets frustrated by this as she watches my expectations crash and burn, but last Saturday night was one of these times, and it was inescapable.

My dad and his brother (my uncle Bill) decided to do a baseball bus tour together, so last Saturday morning, they left from Charlotte and came to DC for their first game at the new Nationals Park. The arrived in the late afternoon and came over to our house to hang out before the game. Plans regarding the whole family going with Dad and Uncle Bill to the game were a bit up in the air, but I had in my mind most of the day, that at the very least, I wanted to take Ellie to her first baseball game. Leah could already see the wheels turning and tried to level my expectations, but the stage was set.

I talked to Ellie about going to the game most of the day and tried to get her excited. Her initial response was that she did not want to go, but when Pop came, she was ready. Leah and Ansley Mills decided to stay home, so the four of us headed out. We bought our tickets and I carried Ellie into the stadium on my shoulders (cue the dramatic "Field of Dreams" music!) as the wide expanse of the outfield and stadium came into full view. But just then, the stupid fireworks went off at the end of the National Anthem and Ellie lost it, screaming and crying that she wanted to go home. Not quite the start I was anticipating, but we pressed on. I promised her I would tell her when the fireworks were going to come again and after 20 minutes, convinced her that she could remove her fingers from her ears!

We went and got some food and then went to our seats. At first, Ellie did not seem that interested in the game, but was very excited about sitting in her own seat. She ate some of my barbecue sandwich and then her own hot dog and was ready for ice cream. She was slowly getting into the action and I was explaining the game to her when the Nats hit a home run and the fireworks went off again. Unfortunately, I failed to fulfill my promise and was too late to warn her, and she lost it again. I tried to talk about how beautiful the colors were, but she was only concerned with the loud and surprising boom! I thought that this was going to end our night, but as long as she stayed in my lap, she seemed to be fine. She also became obsessed with the Nat's mascot, a large eagle named Screech, and after Pop took her to see him, she seemed better. From this point on, it was the awesome experience I had hoped for.

Holding her in my arms, laughing and talking about the baseball men and eating more than one cup of ice cream - it was as close to a perfect moment as we get on this earth and really was a wonderful experience. Further, I already know that it will be one of those memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

We made it all the way to the 7th inning stretch before she started to lose interest, but it was a great night nonetheless. I now know to wait at least a few more years before envisioning sitting together at many more Nats games with Ellie keeping the box score, but nothing can take away from a Saturday night at the ballpark with your daughter.


Townes said...

America pastime... what better event for a grandfather/father/daughter outing?

p.s. - When we're at the beach, I'll be sure to bring a boat load of fireworks, just to keep things interesting.

JTP said...

what a sweet post!!!!! it makes me laugh because I can totally see you as one of those clark griswold types tom :-)

Cara said...

Hi Tom! Your post made me very nostalgic...some of my favorite times with my daddy were at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium watching the Bravos when they were awful! Don't worry... she will be keeping the box score before you know it! Glad to read that you are all well.