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7:51 a.m. - 2005-04-11

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME AND MAKE ME ALMOST KILL A KID

Yesterday Andrew and I went to our first baseball game together.

A classmate of his was having her birthday party at the baseball stadium and they just happened to have a baseball game going on at the same time.

I had been pumping Andrew up for the last several days, reminding him that we're going to an actual BASEBALL game and he had gotten pretty jazzed about it himself.

He even wore his little baseball cap I bought him a few years ago that he never ever wanted on his head.

So we get there and Andrew makes a beeline for the baseball field which has a fence around it.

Y'see ... Andrew thought HE was going to be playing in the baseball game since he's been able to hit a few wiffle balls that I've managed to gingerly throw at his wiffle bat while he held it and now he thinks he's Barry Bonds minus the horrendous steroid abuse.

After I explained to him that we were going to WATCH a baseball game, Andrew lost interest in the whole day REEEEEEAL quick.

He greeted his classmates with a simple "Hi" for each one and then he wanted to go home.

It's kind of hard to explain to the parents of the birthday girl who bought you and your son tickets to the game that we're leaving before the game even starts. Oh ... and thanks for the tickets.

Luckily (I say that now), it was Kids Day at the baseball stadium and there was a bunch of inflatable moonwalks and slides and mazes and stuff for the kids.

Andrew has always been very wary of these things. Probably because he's a puny little shrimp and it's mostly college kids who get in these moonwalks and they're trippin' on the crack rock and trying to bounce to Heaven and they end up kicking the living shit out of anyone that weighs less than 170 lbs. while inside these things.

So we get over there and I expect Andrew to stay on the tiny little permanent playground area because it has a slide and Andrew's all about the slide.

Wrong.

Andrew saw one of his classmates go in the moonwalk and Andrew was right behind him.

Literally.

I mean ... he was all "A line? FUCK the line. I'm Andrew. I don't wait in no fucking lines. I'm ready to fucking JUMP, Daddy."

And he was inside that moonwalk before I could grab him by the nape of the neck and force him to the back of the line.

The little teenager who was making minimum wage to stand near the hole that the kids crawled through to enter the moonwalk mumbled "He has to wait in line".

"I know," I said. "I'm sorry."

So Andrew jumped and laughed and had a great time in the Moonwalk and fortunately didn't get a concussion from the 200 lb. high school football players that were in there rough-housing.

(Trust me kids ... when you get older and have a kid of your own ... you understand why all the signs around pools and inflatable kiddie attractions say "No Rough Housing" or "No Horseplay". Get in there and play gently, goddammit. The last thing I want to do is to make a quick sidetrip to the emergency room on the way home, ya hyper bastards.)

So Andrew exits the moonwalk all excited.

And he's ready to go in the inflatable maze.

And that whole "Fuck waiting in line" stuff?

It was in FULL EFFECT.

Now then ... I'm carrying two bottles of water, a bag of Doritos, a digital camera, Andrew's shoes, Andrew's baseball cap (which stayed on until he found out he wouldn't actually be playing in the baseball game ... at that point it was mine to hold), Andrew's bracelet that allowed him to play in these things that came off as soon as he figured out how it came off, and my cell phone.

My arms were full of crap, right?

So when Andrew would jump in front of the line, crawl into these mazes before the minimum wage teenagers could grab him and take off through the maze, the ONLY thing I could do was yell "ANDREW!!! GET BACK HERE NOW!!"

All of a sudden, the best daddy in the world (me) turned into ... Bad Daddy.

I may as well have been dressed in a wife beater, eyes red from pot smoke and wearing frayed Daisy Dukes with sandals. Because I was now the biggest redneck in the area.

Andrew got in the middle of the maze where the inflatable slide was.

And he would. Not. Quit. Sliding.

Finally, he stopped, went out the exit and laughed crazily.

And went straight back to the entrance at speeds of 40 mph while I ran behind him, arms loaded with all our possessions that we had brought, screaming "ANDREW!! WAIT!!"

Again, he jumped in front of the line while the little girl's head was turned and went up in the maze again.

"He's gonna get me in trouble," she said to me.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "He's never acted like this before."

Which was sort of true.

He's never acted like that IN PUBLIC before.

After about ten minutes of wreaking havoc on this maze with me screaming at him the entire time without ever getting a chance to get to him physically, a bigwig with the baseball team came over to the maze and stood right next to me and the girl at the exit.

"You have to get better control of these kids," he told her nicely. "Especially THAT one."

*gulp*

I felt like the worst parent in the world.

My child was causing teenagers to get (nicely) chewed out.

He was endangering the lives of others.

Truth be told, he was probably an Al-Quida terrorist.

And I bet he was the leading cause of cancer.

He was officially a terror child.

And I was mortified.

I finally found a picnic table where I put all of the things I had been carting around for the last 20 minutes down.

I waited at the exit of the maze.

When Andrew tumbled out with a big grin on his face, I grabbed him.

Not just any grab ... nay ... I used the redneck grab.

That’s where you wrap your arm around the kid’s waist and carry them parallel to the ground, upper body facing forward, feet kicking behind you.

I marched over to the birthday party just in time to watch the birthday girl open our gift ... a Strawberry Shortcake cheerleader doll that Andrew picked out himself (Yes ... I’m worried).

I thanked somebody for inviting us. I’m not sure it was the parents of the birthday girl or not. Coulda been a hot dog vendor for all I know.

And we left the stadium at the top of the fifth inning without managing to see a SINGLE PLAY in the game. Not one.

I carried him to the car.

I put him in his car seat where he promptly conked out from all the activity in the sun.

You’d never know by looking at the kid slumped over in the car seat that he had just concluded a reign of terror never before seen in an inflatable maze.

He’s still my little angel.

But it’s getting harder and harder to convince others of this fact.

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