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A gem of a night for Little Guy at the baseball diamond

Submitted by on Saturday, 28 June 2008 No Comment

Ran into a recently retired co-worker friend Friday at the ballpark — literally.

It was during the first Little Guy escape of the night. He had bolted from our seats one row back from the field to the tip-top of the stadium, which is where I went nose-to-nose with my friend. For 10 years, I had sat across from him five days a week, but I was so focused on capturing my little convict that I didn’t recognize my friend at first.

“How you been doing how’s retirement wish I could talk gotta run,”" I panted. Times like that I always wonder why God gives budding track stars to us “”mature mothers.”"

I also remember why I was on home confinement from July 2005 to July 2006 — Big Guy was between 2 and 3 and really not fit for civilized company.

They’re tricky at that age. They’ll do credible impersonations of actual human beings for hours. They’ll share nicely, say “”please”" and “”thank”" and respond “”OK”" when you ask them to do something.

So you work up the courage to try. Big Guy and I love baseball, and Little Guy only had the vapors every other inning the last game we went to, I rationalized.

Self-delusion sucks.

The evening started smoothly, with Little Guy accepting “”later”" as an answer to pleas to hit the ballpark’s bounce house. I cheated, though. I’d let them have Sprite on the way to the game. They seldom drink soda, so the rarity of the treat bought me a few innings’ good will.

Next came the Dots — two movie-theater size boxes, which meant Little Guy could munch away without control-freak Big Guy stingily doling out only the colors he doesn’t like. Little Guy sat quietly next to me with a look of pure bliss.

Turns out that Sprite and Dots are not a good combination. The sugar buzz hit, and Little Guy did what 3-year-olds do in such situations. He ran. Up and down dozens of rows, dozens of times. No, I don’t know exactly how many rows, and it’s unlike me to not notice that type of detail. I suppose my screaming hamstrings cut off the oxygen supply to my brain.

The sprints jump-started Little Guy’s memory, though. “”Bouncing house! Bouncing house!”"

Three innings later, we made it back to our seats. I had to bribe them with antifreeze-colored slushees .

Foolish, foolish woman. Had I not learned anything from the Sprite-Dots fiasco?

Little Guy had. He’d learned that he’d had enough sugar for the night, so he dumped blue swill across our sandaled feet. And then cried because his feet were cold and his shirt was wet. I sopped the antifreeze and changed his shirt.

He’d also learned that when you’re a tiny kid with moonbeam eyes and a smile brighter than the stadium lights, it’s easy to get a crowd on your side. As he took off for another track meet, people started cheering him. I’ll have to admit, he was at least as interesting as the game at that point.

“”Go kid! You’re making it! Head for the top!”"

A sympathetic woman at the top spotted my “”would someone please stop this runway train”" look and stuck out her leg to block him. I think she saved my life. The ache had spread to my calves, and I wondered if the starting pitcher really needed to ice his arm. I figured I deserved the pack more than he did — I’d lasted more innings.

By the top of the ninth, Little Guy had had all the fun he could stand — it was an hour past his bedtime, but I’d promised Big Guy we’d stay for the post-game fireworks. “”Don’t wanna fireworks! Tired! Wanna go home,”" he wailed.

There weren’t enough cuddles or sweet talk in the world to console him. At least not until the lights went out before the fireworks. He didn’t necessarily like it, but it at least caught his attention.

The preliminary pops distressed him again. Loud noise and tiny flashes of light weren’t doing the trick for an over-tired toddler.

Then the big guns came out. Umbrellas of green, purple and “”orangine”" shot across the sky. He covered his face with my hand, then cautiously spread my fingers to sneak a peak. The tears stopped, and the big beautiful smile returned. Steady streams of ooohs and ahhs flowed. He continued to hold my hand to his face, not out of fear, but to affirm that the experience was something special.

All in all, it was a great night to be 3.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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