3 Innings In

Umpirates

The sun is out in full force. It’s 80 degrees outside; the backyard is blizarding with wisteria petals. The neighborhood is perfumed by the scent of gardenias. Baseball is on TV. A rousing amalgamation of t-ball/basketball/soccer/curling is underway just outside the patio doors.

It’s April. And as spring represents the season of rebirth, the memories fit.

For the love of the game
Sometimes, you’ve gotta cry a little
For the love of the game
Maybe, even gotta die a little
For the love of the game
I made a sacrifice, I never thought, I’d have to make

My adventure toward the new normal of prematurity began three years ago. I’ve since learned not to let the fear of striking out keep us away from playing the game. Because the only pitch that matters is the one you’re about to hit – not any you’ve previously whiffed.

Like on Friday. I arrived at preschool for pickup. “They slept for a combined 15 minutes and had a cookie for snack. Good luck.” The SportsCenter theme song played in my head; highlights were about to get good.

When we arrived home we headed straight for the backyard. The mission: enjoy the glorious California evening while exhausting the muppets.

So we dined al fresco (on a picnic table that thankfully did not collapse beneath me), experiencing the full body sensation that only PB&J can provide, while I yelled at the dogs to stop eating my landscaping.

On Saturday we packed up our things and headed to a ballgame. My alma mater was playing locally so I figured it would be the perfect introduction – take in a few innings, eat a hotdog – at a stadium without too many people around to annoy.

(I love you Santa Clara, but you’re not really known for your attendance records. But while we’re chatting – major props for the high socks with the unis.)

We found our seats and negotiated with the chairs. Neither muppet is heavy enough to keep the seat down, so they got folded up. But once we were situated Destroy immediately commenced calling the game.

He has a serious future as a play-by-play announcer.

“That guy has a new bat now! The other guy throwed the ball at him. He has a hat. He has a different hat. Look! The pants are dirty. They’re running. He has a new bat! That’s the baseball game. He has dirty pants, too! We’re at a baseball game. I need a snack. I’m eating my hotdog. They throw it!”

Suddenly he paused. Focusing on the field, he announced, “What’s the black guy doing?”

“That’s the umpire sweetie,” I explained. “He makes sure everyone follows the rules.”

“UMPIRATE!” squealed Search. Noted. He may be on to something here.

The stadium was empty enough that the boys were able to fidget and run around the rows a bit without disturbing anyone. After four innings they started to get distracted. As that was the same time they stopped charging for attendance, the stands started to fill up.

“I pooped at the baseball game!” Destroy announced to everyone within earshot. We quickly tipped our hats and headed to our home locker room.

“You are a stinker,” I laughed, ushering him toward the stadium gates.

“I NOT a stinker,” he replied indignantly. “I a Destroy.”

How far we’ve come. It’s not a perfect game, but three years in and we’re still holding the lead.

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