Sport and Competition

Watching Elena and Roman, it’s clear to see that children have an innate urge to compete. It probably stems from the survival instinct of needing a mother’s attention, but while the initial manifestation–who can cry the loudest?–eventually fades, the underlying desire only becomes stronger as children grow. I’m particularly surprised how quickly they learn to feel the thrill of competition by proxy, becoming avid fans as soon as they figure out which side they should cheer for.

As spring arrived, Elena asked when we were going to another baseball game. Although it had been nearly two years, she remembered the last game we had attended and wanted to go to another one. She was in luck. The Orioles were closing out a home stand on a weekday afternoon and there were plenty of tickets available in the upper deck. I took the afternoon off and headed towards the light rail station, our chosen method of transport into the city. However, there was a bit of a mishap as Jenny and the kids left home to meet me there. Jenny had turned around to lock the door, and the pad of freshly-poured wet cement that had escaped her attention proved to be an irresistible draw for Roman–he stomped right in it before Jenny even turned the key. As soon as she saw what had happened, she redirected me towards home, changed Roman’s pants and shoes and rinsed off the concrete, and we started on our way, not as early as we would have preferred, but still arriving in time to hear the National Anthem.

It was a great day out, with warm temperatures and beautiful blue skies. Elena knew to cheer for the Orioles in orange and white, not for the Blue Jays. (For some time afterward she thought that any team in blue was the Blue Jays.) The Blue Jays hit some home runs to take the lead, but the Orioles worked their way back to a tie. We had some snacks from home, and got cotton candy as a treat. When I took Elena out for a break, The Bird was there and we had our picture taken with him. There were plenty of empty seats around ours for the kids to stretch and wiggle. We had to get going when the game went into extra innings, so we were already home by the time the game was decided–probably a good thing, because the O’s lost.

When Grandma, Grandpa and Mark came up from Virginia for a final visit, Jenny picked a very special activity: a visit to Medieval Times. I’ll admit that I was skeptical about how good the show would be, and despite the awesome coats of armor on display the lobby and gift shop did nothing to lessen my fears. As soon as the horses galloped into the arena, I was as transfixed as everyone else. The horses are truly incredible, and the knights who ride them come in a close second. Jenny worried that the fighting would scare Elena and Roman, but we reminded them that it was all pretend and said we would cover their eyes if it was too scary. There don’t seem to have been any ill effects. We were in the green section, and cheered for Green Knight as loudly as we could, even louder than we booed his rival the Red Knight. The Green Knight didn’t emerge victorious, but it was good way to get excited for our impending move to a country where they have real knights.


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