The thing with parenthood is it’s all on-the-job training and you never quite know if you got it right.
I knew right then and there that the high point for me was on a chilly day in Chicago. He was 8. We went to one of the great cathedrals of baseball, Wrigley Field. Sammy Sosa hit a home run, the Cubs won, and my son ate three hot dogs.
That’s it. I have succeeded as an American dad. It’s all downhill from here.
A couple years later we drove to the West Coast and saw a lot of America, though he often had his head in a video game as we passed the sandhills of Nebraska, the canyon country of Utah and the mountains of Nevada and Colorado. But he did love the ballgame at the cool stadium in San Francisco.
You always fret that you haven’t done enough.
In a week-long visit to Florida, we snuck in a day for Disney World. He was 9 that summer. I thought maybe a day wasn’t enough and that we were short-changing him. But it got to be late in the afternoon, and he said he wanted to ride the car thing one more time and he’d be good. It’s just as well we didn’t plan a three-day extravaganza that would have bankrupted us.
And how did so many years pass before his mother and I got him to Washington, D.C., where a week’s visit only scratches the surface? We finally went and crammed in as much as humanly possible – Congress, the Library of Congress, the Jefferson-Lincoln-Vietnam loop and countless Smithsonian sites. And a ballgame of course.
One Smithsonian site – the National Museum of American History – was closed that summer, a disappointment for me. The next spring, my son went back to Washington with the high school band, and in his free time he headed straight to American History. I’ll count that as a win.
But there is so much. He’s seen the Golden Gate Bridge, Lake Superior and Arches National Park, but we never got to Rushmore and Crazy Horse, the Statue of Liberty or the Alamo.
It’s an endless list, and you can make yourself crazy. Ultimately, parents do their best and hope they’ve given their children a sense of the wider world.
Last week, it was a trip to see family. Our son, now 26, readily agreed to go along and see his grandparents. Of course, there had to be a ballgame, and he took intense interest in planning that expedition.
And, when in or near Arizona, one does the Grand Canyon, right? We arrived. We looked from one spot, then the next and so on, each view better than the last, for my money at least.
Baseball Boy was less impressed than I was. It’s a lovely set of very cool rocks, he kept saying.
Fair enough. I finagled to get him there. My work is done here.
Maybe someday he’ll take me to see Crazy Horse.
– Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Follow him on Twitter: @FoxEDC