Adventures Of Fatherhood

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With Pam out of commission due to the flu last weekend, I had a dilemma: how was I going to watch the Ravens play on Saturday with the kids?

Typically, if I watch the game at home, Pam tends to the kids for the most part while I enthusiastically obsess on the television. She has an interest in the Ravens, but she’s more into it when the team makes the playoffs than during the season. She is not quite as diehard as I am.

With her down for the count last weekend, I knew I would have to get creative if I wanted to be able to enjoy the game while being the primary parent to 4- and 3-year-old boys.

Starting bright and early on Saturday with indoor soccer practice, my goal was to provide an active day for the kids so they might be more inclined to relax and kick back during the afternoon game. I even gave them baths minutes before the game to try and calm them and trick them into thinking some quiet time was in order.

Understandably, though, my boys are not content watching football for three-plus hours. They enjoy the excitement of it all at first, particularly donning their jersey, but their attention wanes throughout the game.

That’s why all the rules went out the window when it came to this game.

I decided early on I was going to let them get away with just about anything so long as at least one television in the house was on the game and nobody was getting hurt.

That’s why I gladly gave up my beloved 52-inch big screen in the living room for them to enjoy their favorite shows, such as Max and Ruby, Caillou and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. If it kept them content and entertained, I was fine with being relegated to the 32-inch television in an adjacent room. It was not a huge sacrifice, obviously.

I will never forget last weekend’s game. The outcome was memorable but it was the ridiculous means I went to juggling parenting responsibilities that makes even more memorable. If that game goes down as one of those that evokes, “do you remember where you were when the Ravens won the double overtime playoff game against the Broncos in 2013?”, I will have a decent story about how I kept the kids entertained for over four hours so I could watch it.

What that entailed was basically being a pushover and letting the kids do just about whatever they wanted within reason.

The end result of this strategy was one terribly messy house but all in all I have to commend my purple-clad sons for cooperating and even watching significant chunks of the game with me. They made me proud.

When the kids eventually tired of their shows in the living room, they often would come in and check on the score. Beckett would often ask, “did we win yet?” Carson preferred to try and lure me to the floor to play with some toys or a game of his choice. With one hand he would reach for me, motioning to the floor and pointing at the television. That was his way of making it clear that I could play with him while watching the game. At times, I did acquiesce, following the game in key points while playing with him during the commercials. He would often remind me of his existence with a rough slap to the knee if my attention drifted.

When the kids started getting restless, I answered the repeated requests for a certain “app” for the iPad. I think it had something to do with the Bubble Guppies and cost about $5. Since it was just the beginning of the second half, I found value in that it kept the boys entertained and actually was educational and instructional.

Unfortunately, there were times when I ended the peace and quiet in the house with screams at the television. My loudest outburst (and I know I was not alone here) took place when the Ravens tied up the game in the final minute with an improbable long pass that sent the game to overtime. My scream frightened the kids, resulting in both of them crying uncontrollably for a spell.

There I was celebrating around the house while holding my sons, trying to let them know everything was okay and explaining that I squealed like a little girl in a volume all too inappropriate for an “inside voice” because I was incredibly happy.

After they settled down, Beckett asked, “so did they finally win, is it over?” I then tried to explain overtime to him and that led to questions about the coin toss and why the referees wore stripes, if he could have a whistle and why the Ravens were not wearing purple like his jersey.

There were several other moments during the game that I would not call my best parenting moments. For one, rarely do I let Beckett and Carson roughhouse to the degree they did during that game. Also, it’s uncommon for me to give each kid a bowl of gummy snacks at 7 at night with their usual chocolate milk.

It’s equally unusual for me to allow the kids to jump off the fireplace, but I did at least make them wear their helmets during the little game they invented.

I also usually do not encourage races in the house, but during this game I did marshal a few crawling competitions with a whistle and a stop watch (in front of the television, of course).

All in all, the boys did great, and Beckett has been asking every day since when the Ravens are playing. That’s my boy.

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