The first time son Teebo asked me, I said no.
My day had already been pretty well planned before he called. And besides, what Teebo was suggesting had a long, hot, tiring--and, yes, potentially disastrous-- sound to it: take two little boys, ages 4 and 2, from the comfort of a fall Saturday afternoon at home into the noisy, crowded chaos of their first college football game.
A friend had offered Teebo four free tickets on relatively short notice, and neither the boys' mama nor their pa-pa could go. Teebo listened patiently as I rattled off all my reasons why I really should stay home. But the second we ended the phone call, my mind became a movie reel of worst-case scenarios.
I imagined Beenie letting go of his daddy's hand to check out a cardboard Tiger cutout and getting lost in the process. I shuddered at the thought of little Heero at the mercy of the tailgaters and moving vehicles in the parking lots near the stadium. I wondered how everybody could get to the potty when they needed to and how, in the process of that, any one of them could possibly enjoy the game.
So I shuffled my day's priorities, returned Teebo's call, and began to mentally reshape seeming impossibility into opportunity. Had an old-fashioned phone booth been handy, I would have ducked in and donned my tights and cape. I would emerge as Super-Googie and brave the game with my boys!
The day turned out to be a delight in every way. We had shady seats on a gorgeous fall day. Our team scored lots of touchdowns, which led to multiple cannon blasts and fireworks. By the end of the game, Beenie had the team cheer down pat. The man behind us bought the boys a box of popcorn.
But oddly, in spite of all those positives, it was a cup of ice that made the day. With a stack of the fruit-flavored, rainbow-colored stuff heaped in a styrofoam cup, accompanied by several of those plastic spoon-scoops, we turned that $3.50 into the best investment Teebo ever made. Even shared among the three of us, the miracle snow cone lasted through most of the third and fourth quarters.
Because it was so solidly frozen, it required a lot of poking and chipping to reduce it to juice that could be sipped and ice particles small enough to maneuver into their mouths and chew. This led to the introduction of a new vocabulary word, "chisel." I am here to testify that said chiseling, followed by the requisite chomping and slurping, is a great way to enjoy a college football game with two preschoolers.
I am so glad I rethought my original decision not to go on this adventure. Clearly, it was one of those experiences no Googie should ever consider herself too busy for.
In years to come, I'm sure the boys will attend many more college football games. Perhaps one or both of them will themselves play on the team, cheer in the student section, or march in the band at halftime.
But whatever the case, only this game, the one last Saturday afternoon, can be their first one. And the best thing is, I can always say I was there to share it.