Tuesday, September 8, 2009

BEEing A Mom: Lemonade, Dinosaurs, and Ice Cream

"What do you want to do today?" my husband asked me yesterday morning.

For several minutes, we brainstormed on possible activities our family could enjoy on the Labor Day holiday. After discussing a plethora of ideas, we finally settled on a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens. I recalled reading about a dinosaur exhibit at the gardens. My three-year-old son LOVES dinosaurs, so we were certain it would be a hit.

An hour later, the three of us piled into our van and set out for the gardens near downtown Denver. But soon our plans changed. As we drove by the baseball stadium and noticed crowds of people gathering at the gates, an idea popped into my head. "Let's go to a baseball game," I blurted out. "We've been talking about going to one all summer. Let's do it today."

Within minutes, I found a parking space several blocks away from the stadium. I felt a surge of excitement as I thought about spending an afternoon with my family at a baseball game. It had been nearly two years since our last baseball game, and I was eager to watch my son discover the joys and thrills of being at a live game.

We approached the ticket counter and inquired about ticket availability and prices. Stunned by the high prices, we hesitated in buying the tickets. Maybe we should go to the gardens, I thought for a brief moment. But we've talked about going to a baseball game for months and if we don't do it today, we'll probably have to wait until next season. And besides, we only do this every so often, so it'll be worth the cost, I reasoned with myself. Several seconds later, we agreed to purchase the tickets.

As we waited in line to enter the stadium, I glanced down at my son. I spotted a bright smile on his face, and even though his red Lightning McQueen hat covered his eyes, I imagined they sparkled with excitement. Oh, we're going to have so much fun, I thought.

Minutes later, we strolled past the stadium's long line of concession stands, trying to decide on what to eat for lunch. I rarely eat hot dogs, but there's something nostalgic about enjoying a hot dog at a baseball game. With our munchies in hand, we found our seats in the lower deck and waited for the game to begin.

All three of us seemed to be enjoying the game until the second inning. As the inning began, I glanced over at my son and noticed a grimace on his face. I studied him for a moment and discovered he was overwhelmed by the loud sounds within the stadium. Above us, the speakers boomed with music and announcements. The crowd clapped, stomped, roared, screamed, booed, and hollered. Vendors climbed up and down the stairs, yelling sales pitches for beer, popcorn, ice cream, and cotton candy. Never had I noticed how deafening a baseball game really is. And it was too much for my son. Covering his ears, he looked up at me and plead for relief. As I escorted him out of the stands and into the concession area, I wondered if we should have gone to the gardens instead of the game.

"Let's get some lemonade," I proposed. He nodded and smiled. We sipped on lemonade and enjoyed several moments in the concession area before returning to our seats. Within minutes, he again struggled with the noise. Holding him in my arms, I comforted him and covered his ears when the crowd cheered and clapped after an exciting play by the home team or when the announcer's voice bellowed from the speakers above. During the fourth inning, he curled up in his seat, rested his head on my husband's lap, and fell asleep. My husband and I sighed in relief.

A couple of innings later, my son woke up, still struggling with the noise. Recognizing his discomfort, I was about to announce to my husband it was time to leave when Dinger the Dinosaur, the Rockies' mascot, appeared on the field. I stood up with my son in my arms and pointed toward the field. "Look, it's a dinosaur," I said with enthusiasm. My son's eyes widened and a grin appeared as he watched the dinosaur waddle up and down the field. Minutes later, Dinger disappeared below the stands.

"Let's see if we can find the dinosaur. I bet he'll come out again," I encouraged my son. He nodded, and the next inning was blissful as we searched for Dinger. Fortunately, Dinger reappeared briefly at the end of the inning.

By the middle of the eighth inning, my husband and I knew it was time to leave the stands. We bought our son an ice cream cone, and while he savored it, we watched the last inning from the concession area and cheered as the Rockies won the game.

As we left the stadium, my son seemed to be in happy spirits. I asked him if he enjoyed the game. He smiled and nodded. I grinned, grateful for lemonade, dinosaurs, and ice cream.

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