My children are young. My son turned four in April and my daughter just turned six this month.
They’ve been going to professional baseball games for a while now. My daughter went to her first game when she was 14-months old. And, my son went to his first game when he was only 4-months old. Last year, we took them to seven professional baseball games – including their first game ever at Yankee Stadium.
Still, they’ve never shown an interest in “the Yankees” until this year. For the most part, going to baseball games meant eating lots of food, watching the mascots, and getting something from the souvenir shop.
Now that they’re both old enough to start processing things around them on their own and make connections, they’ve realized that the Yankees are something important to “dad.” (Between my collection of “Yankees” shirts and the “Yankees” junk in my office at home, and the “Yankees” always being on TV, the “Yankees” addiction thing about me is pretty obvious.)
Related, at the start of this season, they told me that they wanted to learn the names of the Yankees players. So, I came up with a plan. Together, we reviewed one player per evening – just before the kid’s bed-time. And, we made a project out of it – filling in the player that we “learned” on a hand-made chart that we stuck on one of our bedroom doors. When we were all done, the chart looked like this:
In addition to going through one player per position each night, one through nine around the diamond plus the D.H., learning his name and position, I tried to tell the kids something about each player. Since I chose Mo Rivera to be the pitcher that they learned, I told the kids that the Yankees save him to pitch the end of the game since he’s their best pitcher. For Alex Rodriguez, I taught them that his nickname was “A-Rod.” I explained the “Godzilla” thing for Hideki Matsui, etc. Sometimes, the player’s name was enough. For example, there’s something about saying “Melky Cabrera” that was a thrill in itself – for my kids. So, I left it at that.
For Derek Jeter, I taught the kids the “Der-rick, Gee-ter, clap-clap, clap-clap-clap” chant. And, that one went over big too.
Anyway, that was done over a month ago. It was fun to share that experience with the kids. For ten days, it was something to look forward to – at the end of the day – and the kids really did learn all the names and positions that we reviewed.
For my six-year old daughter, the Yankees interest thing has carried further. Now, we watch a little of the game together before she goes to bed (if it’s a night game) – and, the next morning, she will ask if the Yankees won or lost, and what was the score, etc. For a dad, this is a pretty cool thing.
Moving forward, last night, something related happened that really made both my wife and I laugh (and then some).
We took the kids to Friendly’s for dinner – and, of course, ice cream afterwards. Once we placed our order, the kids started to get busy with their crayons – drawing away on their paper placemats. As usual, we were in a booth – my son sitting next to me and my daughter sitting next to my wife.
I have to confess…sometimes, as a parent of young ones, you forget that your kids hear everything. And, what happened next was a good reminder for us on that one.
In another booth, close to us, was a girl and a guy. They were both probably around seventeen. You could tell – by the way she was dressed and by his awkwardness – that they were on a date. Of course, upon seeing them, I said to my wife “We were never that young, were we?” And, it was worth a chuckle – between me and her. Our kids continued to scrawl and draw like mad with their heads down and crayons working overtime. It truly seemed like they were not aware of the conversation between me and my wife.
Next, my wife started to ask me how I was going to handle it when that was our daughter, when she was older, and out on a date (like the girl in the other booth). My initial answer started out along the lines of “I’m going to have to be sedated, or something, because I’m not going to take it well….”
Then, for some reason, I continued with “Unless, of course, she decides that she wants to date someone like Derek Jeter.”
And, then, without warning but right on cue, at the split second that my mouth finished saying “Derek Jeter,” my four-year old son drops his crayon and says “Der-rick, Gee-ter” and then claps his hands in the pattern of “clap-clap, clap-clap-clap.” And, he continues to repeat this, over and over again.
My wife looked at me and said (jokingly) “Great, it’s one thing that you have the six-year old hooked on this stuff. But, now, you have the four-year old brainwashed as well.”
My answer? “Ah, yes, my work here is almost done.”