Let me start off by saying that I am blessed to be the father of a 3-year-old daughter. She is the light of my life and I got to share with her my passion for sports by attending a minor league baseball game last Friday night.
The game was between the Frisco Roughriders and the Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League. While it was more for my benefit that we went, I took my daughter Chloe to this game. This was the first time that I have taken her to a sporting event without my wife.
Needless to say, I was a little nervous. I wasn't sure if she would enjoy herself or if she would hate it.
We got to the game, and it started with getting us a couple hot dogs, drinks, and some twizzlers. Let me say, the two hot dogs were for me, but Chloe had other ideas and promptly stole my second hot dog for herself.
Once the pre-game festivities started, she was more interested in the two mascots, Deuce and Daisy. As she would watch them and ask to go see them, I would let her know we couldn't go on the field.
In typical 3-year-old fashion, she was more interested in everything but the game. But in spurts she would occasionally watch the game and as a runner made it to first base, she would blurt out "he won!"
To hear this, I couldn't help but laugh. I tried to explain to her that it wasn't considered winning until you crossed home plate. But she didn't grasp that just yet, she would claim a "winner" every time a runner got to another base. Then she would start playing with whatever grabbed her attention close by.
There was one home run hit during the course of the game, and fireworks were shot off, and she enjoyed that. She immediately wanted to see more fireworks. So, I again explained that when a ball is hit in the stands they shoot off fireworks.
She seemed to understand what I told her and was content with it. But then she requested more soft drinks and junk food.
As the game wore on, she seemed less interested in the game and more interested in playing with wrappers and kids sitting next to us.
I would occasionally ask her if she was having fun, to which she relied, "yeah". So I felt good that she was enjoying the game. At a couple points during the night, she would sit in my lap for a few minutes and watch the action on the field.
Around the seventh inning stretch, I saw my opportunity to really crank up her enjoyment. I noticed the mascot Deuce was coming up our aisle, so I bolted out of our seats and took her down the row to meet Deuce.
She loved this part and she got to give him a hug and he immediately squeaked at her. This was her highlight of the night. Seeing her so happy made me feel like the night was a success. But her big surprise at the end of the night was fireworks.
Once the game was drawing to a close, I let her know about the fireworks upcoming and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. She couldn't wait!
As the final out was recorded of the night, I picked her up and she told me, "daddy, its fireworks time" to which I could only reply, "yeah".
She didn't care that Frisco won, or that there was nine innings of baseball. She got to meet Deuce and was going to see fireworks.
After the team left the field, they turned the lights off in the stadium and started the fireworks show. Which meant Chloe was back in my lap, watching the show.
She ooo’d and ahhh’d throughout the show. I sat there and thought about the night. I realized, while she may not care about the game now, she had fun just because it was with daddy.
She may not understand why I get all excited or mad at points of games. But she knows daddy has a passion for sports. And for those three hours at the game last Friday, she got to share in that experience.
Once we got home, and as I was putting her to bed, she looked up at me and said the one thing that can melt me in an instant. She grabbed my face, looked me dead in the eye and said, "I love you daddy".
As I walked out of her room with a tear forming in my eye, I realized that right now she doesn't understand the sports I watch, or take her to. But the more that I expose her to them and share my passion and enjoyment of them with her. She will too have that same passion and excitement. Even if that passion is nothing more than to get that extra few hours with dad.