One Last Chance

I swore in December that I would never again take Cameron to another hockey game.  I gave him two chances to go, and he ran away from me both times.  I felt I had done my due diligence in giving him the opportunity to prove to me that he’s old enough and responsible enough to behave in that sort of environment.  So, never again.  I was certain, I was standing firm, and then….

…Spongebob came to town.

Sigh, now what?  Brendan got the opportunity to meet Spongebob a few years ago, and he loved it.  Kaylee got the opportunity to meet Dora the Explorer a couple months ago and despite her fears of costumed folk, she couldn’t have been happier.  So how do I deny Cameron that same opportunity.  The headaches associated with taking Cameron to a hockey game kept ricocheting through my head, but the missed opportunity just kept on looming, so I bit the bullet and decided to take him…conditionally.

I decided to wait and see how his behavior was in the week leading up to the game.  I didn’t tell him about the game or Spongebob, I just let him behave as he normally would.  That way if it appeared that this was going to be a really bad idea he wouldn’t know he was missing out and I could just as easily take Brendan with me at the last minute.  But he was an angel last week, so on Saturday morning I told him he’d have to take a nap for a change (instead of a rest) so that he could go to hockey with me and meet Spongebob.  The first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t want to.”  I was quite shocked.  He’s been very upset the past month and a half to miss out on the opportunities to go to hockey games.  We’ve explained to him why he has to miss out, but he’s upset each game just the same.  But I didn’t pressure him, I just told him it was fine and he didn’t have to go if he didn’t want to.

We spent the remainder of Saturday morning running errands.  When we arrived home Cameron came to me and said, “I’ve changed my attitude mommy.  I want to go to hockey with you.”  Hallelujah!!  We’re starting to learn that the fastest way to get Cameron to stop being stubborn about something is to ignore him until he’s ready to come around.  Unfortunately that isn’t always an option, but when it is it generally works.  He wasn’t quite finished with his proclimations at that point.  He had two additional conditions I had to meet before he would consent to go to the game.

First, he wanted to take someone special with him.  I panicked slightly on this one because I knew the game was sold out and we only had a ticket for him.  But when I asked him who he wanted to take along he said he wanted his little sister to go.  Relief swept through me, immediately followed by dread.  Logistically, taking Kaylee to the game was no problem.  At two, she can get into the game without a ticket.  However, I knew taking Kaylee to the game in addition to Cameron would do quite a number on my mental sanity.  Of any combination of my kids taking Cameron and Kaylee somewhere alone is the most difficult.  She tends to be a slow walker who refuses to be picked up, and he has a tendency to run ahead first and think about what he’s doing later (if ever).  But I figured if it would make him happy, it was definately something I could handle.  One condition checked off the list.

Second, he wanted to make sure that he would be getting some sort of snack during the evening.  He had the gall to look me straight in the eye and say, “If you want me to meet Spongebob then I’m going to need a snack.  If I don’t have a snack then I just won’t have the energy to go and meet Spongebob.”  What a con artist.  That boy will do just about anything to secure himself some sort of treat or snack.  What’s funny to me is that he really didn’t need to make that a condition.  I generally give the kids a snack at some point during the game.  It gives them something to look forward to, and helps keep them focused for a bit longer.

So with both conditions met, we made it through the rest of our afternoon and went to the game.  I knew going into the evening that the game was sold out, but for some reason it didn’t register with me that the arena would be crowded.  (Yeah, don’t ask me.  I fully admit to being certifiably crazy in this case)  So making my way through the crowd with children going at two different speeds, neither of which will consent to holding your hand was definately a challenge.  But we made it to our seats just in time for the start of the game.

The singing of the national anthem is always a fun time for me when I take the kids to the games.  I enjoy teaching them why they have to stay quiet during the song, and that they should be paying attention to the flag.  They’re just so darn cute when they finally grasp the concept.  Brendan has always been good for us, it didn’t take much prompting to get him to understand the concept.  Cameron was a little harder (who am I kidding?  He still is.), he had a tendency to want to talk through the entire thing.  We’ve finally gotten him to the point where he’ll stand silently, but boy does that kid fidget.  Kaylee, being as young as she is, is still learning but getting better with each game.  The first game I took her to this year she started shouting at the top of her lungs right before the singing started, and hers was the only voice in a completely silent arena.  Talk about embarassing.  But Saturday night as I held her up, she sat quite still in my arms and looked right up to the flag.  I placed her tiny little hand over her heart and she left it there the whole time.  The only thing that ruined this wonderful moment was about halfway through the song she leaned over to me and said, “Look mommy, da fwag.”  Sigh, yes Kaylee we know…it’s a flag.

Then finally the game started.  We made it through the fist two periods with very little trouble from the kids.  They definately weren’t being bad, but they were both wound up like I’d never seen them before.  Cameron literally could not stay sitting in his chair.  He spent the whole of the game bouncing in and out of it every 5 seconds.  Kaylee spent the entire game bouncing from lap to lap, never staying in one place for more than a minute or two.  Snacks weren’t doing the trick either.  They were either complaining that they didn’t have any, wolfing them down, or begging for more.  Usually a snack will at least keep them content for a few minutes.

At last, between the second and third period I took the kids upstairs to meet Spongebob.  There was a huge crowd standing by him, so we had to wait a bit before we were able to go up to him.  At first it seemed like Kaylee’s experience with Dora had completely eliminated any further fears about people in costumes.  She stood in line and just kept shouting, “Hi Punge Bob!” over and over again.  Cameron on the other hand, was not so enamored with the man in the giant yellow costume.  The closer we got to him, the further behind me Cameron cowered.  After almost 15 minutes (10 of which were wasted by a couple of middle aged gentlemen who kept posing in different ways and taking each others pictures with Spongebob) it was finally our turn…and neither of the kids wanted to go anywhere near him.  Both cowered behind me clutching one of my legs.  Kaylee would occasionally peek out and shout hello again, but would duck back behind my leg as soon as he turned our way.

Finally, she saw somebody come up and shake Spongebob’s hand.  That gave her the courage to run forward and quickly shake his hand herself.  But that was as close as she ever got.  She was far enough back that poor Spongebob had to stretch his short arms out as far as possible just to touch her fingertips.  Cameron never got brave enough to quit cowering and was soon asking to go back to our seats.

Disappointed I took the kids back down to our seats and got ready for the third period.  I really thought we’d make it through the whole game with out a running off incident.  Cameron had done fairly well in that respect.  He’d get 10-20 feet away before remembering that he wasn’t supposed to run off, then turn around and come back.  For him, that was a huge improvement.  But the game ended (we lost by the way) and as we were chatting with some of the opposing teams fans who’d sat behind us during the game while we waited for the stands to clear out Cameron took that opportunity to run off and watch the Zamboni come out and clean the ice…2 sections away.

Lucky for him and for me I saw him darting that direction, and never lost sight of him.  But the fact remains that I am unable to trust him in a crowded situation like that.  We’ve been quite fortunate that he’s never truly gotten lost or that someone hasn’t snatched him.  So, for his safety, this was Cameron’s last game this season.  We’ll try again next fall when he’s a little older and, hopefully, a little wiser.

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