Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Sometimes you just strike out.

I’ll admit it.  Although the vast majority of our trips and adventures are successes, once in a while we bite off more than we can chew, or we overestimate the kids’ interest in an activity, and we come home without having a lot of fun for the day.

Jonah Lisa’s post about a minor league baseball game was my latest inspiration.  Well, that and the fact that there wasn’t much else on the GoCityKids Minneapolis-St. Paul calendar for today.  When I told my husband after church that the St. Paul Saints were playing at 1:05 and he had to decided immediately whether to go or to stay home, he say “go!”  So I called for tickets and we loaded up the kids.  Along the way, we stopped for fast food in the car (an adventure in itself with four little kids) so we could get to the game on time.

We found free on-street parking, not knowing that we’d be walking a half-mile or more, or that $6 would have bought us much closer spots, and headed to Midway Stadium.  There was a hold-up at the will-call window, and we had no idea where we were going once in the stadium, but we found seats in the general admission section just as the National Anthem started.

It was a nice afternoon for a ball game, but that was about the end of the positive experience for us.  Even the antics between innings didn’t keep the kids entertained.  Between them begging for food from the vendors (even though we’d just finished lunch 30 minutes before), the boys saying they were bored, and the girls unable to sit still, we gave up midway through the sixth inning.  The kids were looking forward to running the bases after the game, and they were disappointed to miss that part of the day.

So, what went wrong to make a fun day turn out poorly?  My husband discussed it on the way home, and it may have been a combination of these factors:

  • Since we went at the last minute, I didn’t have time to explore the Saints’ website for stadium area.  That, combined with what I consider to be poor signage at the stadium (Would it hurt to have a sign on the back of the general admission area so you know you’ve found it?) sent us to one set of general admission bleachers.  Little did I know that there was a kids’ play area on the other section of general admission seats.  I didn’t discover it until we were driving past the stadium on the way home.  Besides, I wouldn’t have known how to get over there (again, the signage).  If I’d planned ahead more, I would have been able to take the kids there to play so that at least my husband could stay to watch the game.
  • We didn’t give the kids the “we just ate so we won’t be spending exorbitant amounts of money on food that we don’t know is peanut-safe at the game” speech.  Silly us, we assumed that since we’d just eaten, they wouldn’t claim to be hungry and thirsty.  We were wrong.
  • We were sitting in the cheap seats.  By the time we decided to go, general admission was all that was available.  But we (even us adults) couldn’t see much of the game, and bleachers seem to invite climbing for kids.  Perhaps sitting in stadium seats with a better view would have sparked more interest for the kids.
  • We thought one or more of the kids would fall asleep in the car on the way there and be refreshed by a nap.  Again, we were wrong.  They never sleep when we want them to.
  • We’re cheap.  I probably could have kept them quiet and still for a while longer with $20 of popcorn and root beer.  But we’re trying to teach them that if you’re going to have soda, it’s better to have the $.25 can at home than the $3.00 glass at the ballpark.
  • The kids haven’t been to a lot of sporting events and they don’t have the “love of the game” that some kids seem to have.
  • They’re young yet.  And there are four of them.  Maybe we were just plain crazy to think it was going to work.

The lesson continued on the way home.  Three of the four fell asleep on our way through the metro area, and my husband stopped to run an errand.  After he came back to the car, we were going to eat an early supper.  We told the kids upon leaving the store parking lot that Mommy and Daddy were going to choose where we would eat supper, and if there was any complaining about the choice we made, we’d go all the way home (another hour and a half) and eat there.  A half-mile later, we pulled into a restaurant parking lot and our four-year-old promptly announced (whined?), “But I don’t like Pizza Hut!”  So . . . we continued out through the parking lot and out to the street, despite her quick change of heart. “I really do like Pizza Hut!  I’m hungry!  I’m thirsty!  Please can we go back?”  The crying continued for another 30 minutes, but by the time we arrived home, she was happy again.

We quickly heated up leftovers and cracked open some of those $.25 cans of root beer.

So, although we generally have fun on our outings, there are times that it just doesn’t work out so well.  Now we’re trying to figure out when we should try it again.  We’re thinking we might try it again when the youngest is six or seven.

What do you think?  What’s a good age to take kids to the ballpark, and what do you do to make the visit go smoothly?


Related posts:  Root, root, root for the home team at Family Travel; Double A Baseball in Frisco, TX at Travels with Children; Take Me Out to the Ballgame at Nerd’s Eye View; Take Me Out to the Ballgame at Midwest Guest.


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