This past Tuesday evening, I took my oldest son, Ryan, to his very first baseball game. We went to see the Durham Bulls, a AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ryan just turned four and has shown a lot of interest in baseball as of late. As a result, I wanted to give him an opportunity to see what he calls a “real baseball game.” Needless to say, he was one very excited little boy when I told him on Tuesday morning that we were going to the game that evening!
On Tuesday afternoon, Ryan was ready to go. He had his baseball hat on — a Minnesota Twins hat that I brought back for him from a trip to Minneapolis a couple of months back. He also had his baseball glove, which was a gift from a my friend, Wayne Jenks, whose boys had outgrown the smaller-sized glove. He even had a batter’s glove (also a gift from Wayne). He was all set! Only problem– it was 3 p.m. and the game didn’t start until 7 p.m.! Excitement simply can’t be contained by a clock!
We had a great time at the game. We got there just before the gates opened, so we had some time to mill around in front of the ballpark. Once inside, we were able to get two Durham Bulls hats courtesy of Whole Foods as they were running a promotion that night. We walked around inside the ballpark and Ryan got to see a “real baseball field” for the very first time. But the main thing he wanted to accomplish: shaking the hand of a “real baseball player,” which we got to do as the Bulls were warming up before the game.
During the game, Ryan did the thing that all little boys do at their first sporting event. He watched the game off and on for a little while, enjoyed a
hot dog, lemonade and ice cream and took in the whole experience.
But the best part of the entire evening took place about half-way through the game. We just returned to our seats from a quick bathroom break (four year olds need to “go” quite often!) and a stop off to pick up ice cream when I look over at Ryan and see something interesting. He’s sitting in his seat just like me and holding his ice cream just like me. And then it happens: Ryan looks right at me with the biggest smile on his face and says “I’m trying to be just like you, Daddy, because I’m learning how to be a daddy so that I can be a good daddy like you when I’m older. That’s how you do it, Daddy. Little boys watch their daddies to learn how to be daddies and I want to be just like you.” And with that, he went right back to eating his ice cream.
Let’s just say that the ice cream wasn’t the only thing melting on Tuesday evening. I couldn’t help but think of how things have changed. It wasn’t that long ago that I was the little boy sitting beside my Dad and looking up to him and everything he did. And now, I’m the Dad and I’m guiding this little boy to be a man.
God– thank you for this tremendous responsibility. Please lead me so that I can do a good job of leading this little boy.