Tonight was one of the best nights of my life – a night out with Tali, my 4 year-old daughter, at the ballpark. It was my first ballgame of the year, and the first game Tali and I ever attended together without Mommy, grandparents, or other siblings. Put simply – this was some serious Daddy and Tali quality time.
I was given two tickets to the Nationals vs. Pirates game tonight (yes, two of the worst teams in baseball right now). Jessicah works late on Thursday nights, so I decided to take Tali with me to the game. I left our other two children with a brave woman from church willing to take on Cana, our 1 year old, and Naaman, our 5 month old (she tells me the kids did great – either she’s a great liar or the kids actually behaved!).
Tali and I first had to take a nearly one-hour Metro ride from our suburban enclave into the city. We sang many rounds of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" on the train (all apologies to those sitting around us), looked for people wearing Nationals’ gear, and also pointed out anyone wearing Pirates’ yellow and black. She was slightly scared when the train went underground, but she got over it quickly. We switched trains downtown, and she gleefully cheered, "We want Green! We want Green!" as we waited for the green line train to arrive at our platform.
After the short ride on the green line, we rode a long escalator up to the street level at Navy Yard station. As soon as we emerged from the station Tali looked left and saw the stadium. "Whoa, that’s awesome!" she said with her 4 year-old exaggerated expression. As we walked down the road surrounded by Nats fans, she spontaneously started chanting in full voice, "Let’s Go Nats! Let’s Go Nats!" I’m so proud.
Well, my pride only grew when, at the top of the first inning, she started booing the Pirates. What was great is that no one else was booing – after all this is Washington, not Philadelphia, and it was only the first inning! – but there is just something terribly cute about a 4 year-old girl alternating between booing and cheering. She even inspired a fan sitting behind us to join us in cheering and booing. Way to go!
We only watched about 2 1/2 innings of baseball – she’s 4, after all. We then walked around the stadium, I pointed out the Washington Monument and Capitol Building, and then we stumbled upon the playground. Oh, the playground. She LOVED the playground. And I genuinely loved the playground, too, except for one thing – it might be the only part of the whole ballpark where I could neither see a video screen showing the game nor hear a play-by-play broadcast. This design flaw is probably intentional – rather than pay attention to the game, we parents should be paying attention to our children who are in the play area. But still . . . we’re at a freaking ballgame! Oh well.
As we were wrapping up at the play area, the Presidents and the Geico Gecko walked by. For you who are confused, at every Nationals games mascots of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt "compete" in a race (sponsored by Geico), and then make themselves available for photos and high fives with kids. Tali and I went over, met the Presidents, and got our pictures taken (by one of their staff photographers – I need to go online Friday to see the photo).
After watching another inning of ball while we ate soft pretzels (at $4 each), we left after six innings and caught the Metro home. Half way home on the Orange line, she fell asleep on my lap. When we finally arrived at the Metro station we got into the van and turned on the radio – the Nationals won! Tali said, "Yea, Nats! Boo Pirates!" And then she fell back to sleep.
What a great night. Many thanks to the family from church who gave me the tickets. Many thanks to the mom and her daughters who watched my little ones. And many thanks to Tali for a great night. I’ll never forget it!