Father-son outings

September 29, 2009 4:44:53 AM PDT
Father-son outings are a no-brainer. It's a time to try and get to know the boy, and go beyond those one-word answers he gives after school. Like this typical afternoon exchange:

Q: How was your day?
A: Good.

Q: Did you learn anything?
A: Yes.

Q: What?
A: Idunno.

Q: I thought you said you learned something?
A: Yeah. (Goes off to his bedroom to play Wii, Game Cube, PlayStation, etc.)

It's hard to break through that barrier of the dad-son relationship, mainly because the dad sometimes acts like Mr. I'm-Your-Elder-So-Respect-Me-And-Clean-Up-Your-Room-And-Stop-Hitting-Your-Sister-And-Get-Me-A-Hammer, and that can be a real drag for a youngster.

The son, of course, is Mr. Who-the-Heck-Are-You-I-Already-Know-Everything-Even-Though-I-Was-Born-Nearly-Three-Decades-After-You. And that can be highly infuriating for an adult. Obviously, we have generational issues to work out. But that's nothing new, right?

Some friends of mine bought us tickets to go see the Phillies at the Bank on a Friday night. Usually I go to games with the entire brood (I also have a wife and a daughter). But my friends made it a point to only purchase two. To the game my son and I - and no one else - would go.

My first stop that day would be the ATM, because my son's appetite defies the rules of metabolism, gravity, and other seemingly unflinching rules of the universe. He eats twice his weight at each sitting. The plant in Little Shop of Horrors comes to mind ("Feed me!"). We would need a cash reserve to continue feeding the beast.

There was some time to kill before the game, so we went sight-seeing in Philadelphia. Independence Mall seemed like a good choice, because when I mentioned the Liberty Bell, a light bulb went on in my son's head. It could have also been hormones - who knows for sure.

The bell's pavilion wasn't all that crowded that day, so we were able to find a good spot near this relic of history. We learned about how it cracked many times, how it probably wasn't rung on that first Independence Day of July 4, 1776, and why WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH IT!!! The parks officer filled us in on other details, and I was surprised to see that my son was listening about 5 % of the time (usually it is in the nano-range between 0 and .00045%).

Pictures with him and me with the bell, pictures of him with the bell, pictures of me with the bell, and extreme close-up pictures of his finger over the lens (thank goodness for digital cameras), and we were off. Citizens Bank Park is the next destination. Oh, and we need to get some food before it gets too crowded ? and before my son's cellular structure starts to fail. I mean, that's what happens if he doesn't eat every 15 minutes.

He had a cheeseburger and fries. What a shocker. If these two items were never invented, my son would starve. You'd think the sheer monotony of eating the same thing over and over again would make him want to try something else. No. He would eat the meal for breakfast if I allowed him. And by the way, any company that produces ketchup owes me a Christmas card every year (at the very least). The boy drowns everything in the stuff. It is hard to keep it stocked in the refrigerator at our house. To him, a burger just isn't appetizing until it looks like it had been stabbed.

We took our seats for the game early. My son lives, eats, and breathes baseball. It's probably even bigger to him than ketchup. In fact, I know it is. He can list every player on the Phillies (including those in the bullpen and on the bench, and many past Phillies players). He knows all of the stars of the league, and about half of the rest. He knows their stats, and even some of their birthdays (this Rain Man of the Major Leagues likes to point out how much younger each player is than me ? that'll be fun when I start to really get up there).

Anyway, the game was on. To sum things up, we saw a home run, there was a rain delay, there was ice cream (for him, and yes, he got it all over his shorts), there was a rainbow over the ballpark, the game resumed, it got pretty late, and we left in the seventh when it looked like it was already decided. To tell you the truth, I can't remember if they won, or even who they were playing.

But I will always remember this:

Sitting in the front seat of my car, driving home, listening to the rest of the game on the radio. My son in the back seat. His face illuminated every now and then from the headlights of a passing car. And this conversation:

"So, did you have fun tonight?"

Darn it, I just asked him one of those "yes" or "no" questions. Surely, this will fall like a dud.

"Yeah."

Pause. Ten seconds later?

"Dad, I wish this day would never end."

Me too, son. Me too.


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