For some moms it's a quiet spa that offers a feeling of calm. For others it may be a relaxing day at the beach. Some may enjoy a cup of coffee in a quiet house while the kids aren't home. All moms have different ways of chillaxin and different environmental characteristics that induce a state of calmness. Call me strange, but for me it is Wrigley Field. Yes, the Friendly Confines. The home of the Chicago Cubs. I feel at home there. I can relax and put the rest of the world out of my mind when I'm there. I can go to a game with one of my sons and enjoy giving them some undivided attention.
This past week, my oldest son and I attended a game. They lost. Hey, that's nothing new. It is the Cubs we are talking about. Losing is something they do more than winning. It's part of the tradition. Part of the curse - if you believe in that sort of stuff. Even though the game didn't end the way we would have liked (and let me add that a horrible call by the ump in the 8th inning cost them the game!), it was a bonding opportunity for me and my son. We've been bonding through baseball since he was about 5. Now he's 17.
In recent years, my sister, a season ticket holder has given me several sets of tickets each season so that I can take the boys to the games. It serves as birthday gifts and I get as much enjoyment out of it as my boys. We always have the same seats in the upper deck. Sure, you can get a better close-up look at things in box seating or a suite, but I love our seats. We are under a canopy, so if it happens to rain a little, we are covered. If it's hot and sunny, like it was on our last visit, we are shaded. I don't even have to lather on sunscreen for a trip there. There have even been games I've been at early in the season when there was snow coming down, but not a flake ever fell on us. I also attend an early season game each year with my dad. It's become our baseball ritual. We always freeze our behinds off in April, but spring just wouldn't be the same without our annual trip to Wrigley.
My oldest turned 17 in May and got his driver's license last month, so I'm seeing less of him these days. He's enjoying the new found freedom that comes with having a set of wheels. This will be his last year of high school. Who knows what's to come next year...more school, perhaps military service. I know our days together as we now know them are numbered. It makes it even sweeter when I'm able to be with him and be in my favorite place all in one day.
There are so many life lessons that come out of a game of baseball:
Honor your country and your flag (as your stand for the National Anthem).
Good guys sometimes finish last (a frequent lesson on this team).
Life's not always fair (like that bad call in the 8th inning!)
Hard work pays off (sometimes in the form of a multi-million dollar MLB contract.)
Heroes never die (Just look at the flags hanging on the foul poles.)
Never give up (need I say more?)
I could go on and on.
After the game, we went on try and get autographs by the players parking lot as we usually do, but as we were exiting, several of the players wives and children were entering for a special family event on the field, so we figured it would be a while before they came out. We split and went over to McDonald's for an ice cream cone. At the next table was an older, well-dressed African-American man with a large black case beside him. I listened in to his conversation with a couple ladies. He was a trumpet player. He may have been playing out on the street after the game, but he was really dressed a little too nice for that. He was wearing a suit and tie and it was about 96 degrees outside. He showed no signs of being out in the heat playing -- no wrinkles or signs of set on his neatly pressed suit. He told the ladies that he plays all over the area in different clubs. One lady said that her son also plays trumpets and she is always on his case to practice each day. He explained that he started playing late - at age 19. He assured her that she was doing the right thing by making him practice even if he complained. "If he's got talent, he's got to do it. You got talent, you got to use it," he said. He sounded so sweet and gentlemanly, I had to try hard not to tear up. Talented people always seem to tear me up -- whether it's a young child performing in a school play, an amateur giving a shot at karaoke or a musician playing in a club. Even outside the ballpark, there were more life lessons from a well-dressed old man carrying a trumpet case.
You can have your spa or your high-priced coffee. I'll take a ball game any day.