Photo: Carroll Creek Park is a beautiful place. Visit it, if you get the chance. If I lived down there, I could see myself finding a seat and writing there on a daily basis. I hope people do.
The entire reason why we went down to Maryland over the 4th of July holiday was because The Husband and I were thinking about taking the boys to see the fireworks this year. We were contemplating doing it down South instead of up here for sentimental reasons. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit in Baker Park or maybe in Rockville and watch the fireworks with our boys? They’d probably really like it, I thought. I told these thoughts to my mother during a phone call in early May.
Next thing I know, there has been a family gathering. The adults had got to talkin’ and they’d decided that a) it’s too crowded down at Baker and it would be such a pain in the ass and b) the fireworks display is really late in the evening (9pm) and the boys would probably be grumpy, so c) why don’t you come down and we’ll just have a cookout and the boys can miss the fireworks but still see the family?
Now, I should have put on my big-girl pants and told Mom no, I have a vision of having little boys enjoy their first fireworks. But no, I didn’t do that. “You are probably right, we hate crowds, it would be a pain to get to, and little boys probably wouldn’t last the whole evening, it would be miserable…”
I did also say that I didn’t appreciate that she kinda usurped my plans just so that she could have a party. I really hate going down there and then finding myself standing in front of a grill feeding a crowd.
So I get an email from my step-father. “You know, the Keys have fireworks at the end of their games. Tickets aren’t that expensive, and they have a whole kid-sized fun area with a Merry-go-round if the boys get fussy. Then they get to see the fireworks! Everybody wins. It’ll be cool to share their first game with them!”
I thought it was a fair compromise. I haven’t been in a stadium for a baseball game in forever, and I was excited to do it, even for minor league action. I also knew I’d be able to get the boys matching Orioles hats as a bonus. What could go wrong?
My post-vacation Quiet Thoughts are about how children at this age have no sense of the big gestures versus the small ones. Indeed, the small gestures are the ones that matter most to them.
The baseball game, as you can guess, was a disaster.
It wasn’t just my family with my mother and step-father. My Aunt and Uncle, retired social butterflies, came along for the ride. It made for a totally different dynamic. The men sat at the far end of the row, my mom and her sister sat next, and The Husband and I sat with the two boys in between us. Wasn’t this supposed to be a thing to do with the grandparents? Why are ya’ll all the way down there?
It drizzled, so my mother and aunt fussed about their hair. The boys could barely see because they were so low in their seats. A hamburger, hot dog and grill sausage with peppers cost me $30 and those two O’s hats I was looking for? $25 a piece! (I passed.)
and the game took forever.
The boys were bored by the 4th inning. We stretched their patience to the 6th with a few goes on the carousel. The usher told my mother later in the game that it had been the longest played the entire season.
By the top of the 7th, the boys were batty with boredom and we were done. I was so angry about the entire thing as we walked to our car (my parents stayed behind). “All I wanted to do was have my sons see some fireworks! Who has us drive 8 hours for nothing like this?” Was I grateful for free tickets? Yes. Was I grateful for the gesture? Yes. But it was a frustrating failure. Even my parents admitted later that it probably wasn’t the best idea. I really wanted my parents to get what my in-laws got earlier in the week at the Air and Space Museum. I was worried they weren’t going to get that.
The breakthrough I was looking for came a few days later, when my mother suggested we walk over to the Carroll Creek Promenade after a sumptuous meal at Brewer’s Alley (a place that you must visit if you ever go to Frederick. Delicious good, lovely atmosphere, and the service was outstanding). Carroll Creek is a long, fantastic koi pond that snakes through the heart of the city. There came the connection I think The Husband and I have been holding our breath for:
So much better than the ballgame. More intimate and personal and more interesting for my two boys. Suddenly, they are holding hands with their grandparents, pulling them to see more fish. They are pointing and giggling, and those wooooows that I heard at the museum came back with the same joy and wonder as before. And my parents were delighted, too. “Look at that one! Do you see that one? What color is that? I like the scales on that one!”
The boys didn’t want to leave. When we did, they talked about the “big, huge fish” the whole way back to the house. It was a topic for the rest of our stay.
Think of all the money we could have saved… they haven’t talked about the ball game at all.
It’s not that the game didn’t matter. It does. But at this age, the world is magic simply by being, and it doesn’t take much for the boys to see it. The grand gestures of “this is your first baseball game and I made that happen for you” don’t fall with the same gravity as other things do. The magic of a summer night in the ballpark will come later. The magic of holding hands and pointing at fish in a stream is where my boys are right now.
It was a great reminder that we have to meet the boys where they are. We want to be part of the expansion of their experiences, but sometimes we are all at our best when success is set up for us: a nice night, a short walk, something beautiful to look at, and a special person to share it with.
It is going to be a steamy weekend here in Massachusetts, Dear Reader. Nothing like the sauna of Maryland, but still hot by all the standards. We’re scheming for some pond time and maybe a quick trip to the ocean. I’ll snap some pics if we do. In the meantime, I wish you cool breezes and frozen drinks, Dear Reader. I wish you a passing glance from a beautiful somebody across the way, or maybe a little peek of skin from the love of your life. I wish you a good story, something scandalous to go with the high heat and fun of this peak of summer joy. I wish you watermelon, lemons, tomatoes, grilled seafood and a pineapple popsicle. And Sangria, of course, because that’s the it drink of the summer! (Personally, I’m drinking Shipyard Summer Ale. Those Shipyard guys… they know what’s up.)
I wish you a kiss on each cheek, a long look in the eyes, and a reminder that you are loved, just as sure as fireflies dance in the night, the corn is high and sweet, and the days will stay long for a few more weeks. So enjoy it: the show, the taste, the time, and the tenderness of it all. You deserve it, Dear Reader.
Until Monday, take care.