Baseball With Dad: A Perfect Manipulation

One of the biggest differences between having no kids and having three kids, is having lots of time to watch sports and almost no time to watch sports. I still watch when I can, which for the most part is games that are on after my kids are in bed. My kids know I like to watch sports though, and I’ve tried to have them watch with me, with pretty much no success. Once they get past why the teams are wearing different colors and what that guy’s name is, they quickly move on to something else. Though Evie, my three year-old daughter, has quickly learned to use my interest in watching sports to manipulate me into letting her stay up past her bedtime. And I’m completely ok with it.

Though we get our kids into their beds by 7:45 most nights, they don’t actually fall asleep until at least 8:30. They talk, they read, they play, and it’s fine as long as they don’t get too loud or keep each other awake if the one of them is ready to go to sleep. A few nights ago Evie was still up at almost 10:00. The Tigers game had just ended and I was about to go to bed myself when she walked out of her room, sat next to me on the couch, and asked “Daddy, can I watch baseball with you?”

I’ve been waiting my whole live for a kid to ask me that. And she knew that. She knew I wouldn’t say no. She didn’t care about baseball, but she knew that if was watching baseball with me then she wouldn’t be in her bed having to go to sleep. Tiny little genius.

I agreed to let her stay out and watch baseball with me just for a little bit as I excitedly searched for a game that was still on. Time zones came in handy, and we settled in to watch the Phillies at the Diamondbacks. Under any other circumstance, watching that came wouldn’t be worth my time. I didn’t care who won, I didn’t know hardly any of the players, and I knew I wouldn’t watch enough to know who won anyway. But she cuddled with me and asked about their uniform colors, and she asked what that guy’s name is, and she asked what is he doing. It might have been the best inning of baseball I’ve ever watched.

The other night my wife took our oldest daughter to soccer practice, and I stayed home with the little two. Evie was excited she got to stay home with me. She knows she gets to stay up later than her little brother, which means uninterrupted one-on-one Dad time for her. As soon as she realized this, she asked me “Can we watch baseball?” You bet your tiny ass, sweetie!

As bad luck would have it, most of the schedule that day was day games or off days. Once again, we ended up watching whatever game was in a time zone that fit our needs – Dodgers at the Rockies. It actually did turn out to be a pretty good game, but this time she didn’t even bother with the usual questions or pretending in anyway to care about the game. She mostly wanted to be tickled and make pretend pizza. This was her Dad time, baseball just happened to be there.

Now that college football is on, I try to catch at least some of the games I want if we are home during the day. I’ll have a game on and the kids will glance over at it and ask two questions; first, what are you watching? Second, why? They ask me the same thing when I have a Detroit Lions game on, though in that case I genuinely don’t have an answer for the second question. Anyway, Evie has no interest to sit and watch football with me in the middle of the day, or even baseball when it doesn’t fit her needs. Funny how that works.

It took her three years to learn how to use my interests to her advantage. She already knows that if she asks for “Tarzan songs” I’ll always play it for her because it’s Phil Collins. It can only be a matter of time until she starts making me cake with ulterior motives. What the hell is she going to do by the time she’s 18? I don’t know what kind of guy she’ll end up with when she’s older, but one thing for sure – that son of a bitch won’t stand a chance.

Really, if it means I get some quality time with my kiddo, and maybe some sports and cake, I really don’t care. She can manipulate me all she wants. I’ll pretend I don’t know what she’s up to, she’ll pretend she gives a crap about baseball. It’ll be great. Would I prefer she has a genuine interest in watching baseball with me? Of course. Will I happily snuggle with a little liar? Absolutely.

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