Enjoying the madness of summer ball

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

I sat in the bleachers with a Kool-Aid stain on my shirt from a kid wiping his mouth, surrounded by broken Dorito chips and empty Dr. Pepper cans.

I was dazed and confused but oddly, having fun.

Little League…in full force.

I don’t want to come off as if I don’t like the Little League season. I think it’s a wonderful time, and I enjoy watching my children and their teammates play their little hearts out.

But let’s be honest, it is exhausting.

Loading up three kids, buying snacks, searching for loose gloves in the trunk and settling the beginning of World War III among siblings is encountered within the 15-minute drive before I even get to the ballpark.

I enter the ballpark on two wheels, have my parking spot stolen from at least three other drivers and somehow get smacked in the head by a flying plastic Gatorade bottle that wasn’t even supposed to be opened until the game started.

After I drop one kid off at their game, I head over to the other kid’s game. We don’t want anyone feeling left out or developing a complex so equal game-watching time is mandatory. Just remember whose game you’re at. I kept hollering for my daughter Elsie to make a good hit before I realized I was at my son James’ game.

Keep a death grip on your money. Otherwise, you will rack up a concession stand tab larger than what you would pull at the bar in your college years. Within seconds, a one drink develops into three hamburgers, nachos, chicken bites, six Gatorades, four Cokes, a pickle shot and a scoop of ice cream.

It’s as if kids smell the paper money on you when you have it. And don’t expect change. At the concession stand, a kid turns into a money-throwing whale at a casino. They begin to throw money everywhere.

Be ready to walk too. After you speed across the park to watch one kid make a hit and speed back across to see if the other kid made a catch, then your third kid has to go to the bathroom.

My youngest son Jase manages to need six-bathroom breaks within one inning. I decided to let him be a “big boy” last game and go to the bathroom by himself. He returned with a roll of toilet paper and his pants down to his ankles for me all because he “was ready.”

The ability to multi-task is also necessary. If two games are not scheduled at one time, be ready to both cheer for your ballplayer while helping your other kid finish their spelling sentences. And in between there, figure out what you can make for supper when you get home. For some reason, the $50 bucks you dropped at the concession stand will not be enough for supper.

But as you sit in the bleachers, you will find yourself smiling. You may be hot and sweaty. Your wallet may be empty. Your feet may be tired. And your voice may be gone.

But your heart will be filled with happiness as you watch your little girl smile before she approaches the plate. You will glow as your “too cool” son sneaks a wink in as he makes a double-play. You will melt when your little toddler gives you a kiss with his sno-cone stained face.

It’s Little League. Enjoy the game while you can.