My youngest is admittedly a mommy’s girl. She also just turned three this summer, and despite her age, still has a raging case of the terrible twos, where opinions are fierce and sensibilities are inconsistent.
I had two tickets to our Columbus Blue Jackets’ last home preseason game. Both of my older two kids have been fortunate enough to visit Nationwide Arena for a few games in the past. Given this was an exhibition, I figured this was a low risk, tremendous opportunity to indoctrinate my youngest to the game of professional hockey and a perfect time for some daddy/daughter time. Because she has two siblings around, I don’t always get many opportunities to hang with just her solo.
With a 7 pm puck drop, my plan was to get downtown early, settle into our seats for warm-ups, stay for the first period, and get back to the cozy confines of our home in time for a reasonable weeknight bedtime and avoid unleashing any toddler tantrums.
The first sign the night might go eskew occurred when I received an email at the close of business that the game was delayed a half hour due to issues with the St. Louis Blues’ (the Jackets’ opponent) airplane. This gave us some surplus flexibility, which is always appreciated when doing anything with children.
All was well until we hit unforeseen highway traffic navigating to the arena. What should’ve been a 20 minute drive, doubled in duration, and my leisurely pregame plans were tightened significantly.
We parked, and instead of moseying to the game, I threw my daughter on my shoulders for the two-block walk to save time (and her stubby little legs). No friction entering the arena, buying her a treat (Sour Patch Kids which she insisted she’d like, but didn’t at all) and getting to our seats - all with minutes to spare before the new alleged puck drop.
Both teams came onto the ice to warm up at 7:30, but after ten minutes or so, went back into their respective locker rooms. To my confusion, the scoreboard then displayed another 15-minute countdown. Then I realized - this game wasn’t going to start until 8 pm.
This obviously threw off our intended itinerary, and any three-year-old can prove to be a ticking time bomb, ignited by any number of unforeseen circumstances. To my daughter’s credit, she was as happy as I’ve ever seen her. And most importantly, we were having a blast just hanging out together, which was exactly what I needed.
Finally the game started, and we stayed for only half of the first period. Satisfying for me was watching an incredible first shift by our new top line which resulted in a goal a minute into the game.
We took the customary photo in front of the cannon, and scooted out the door for the car (again, her perched on my shoulders). It goes without saying, but I highly recommend taking your kids to a Columbus Blue Jackets game. Plenty of activities to take advantage of and a true family-friendly environment. This was over two weeks ago now, and she is still constantly talking about the Blue Jackets.
On the drive home, another familiar parenting curveball occurred: we hit traffic again. Absolutely uncanny to deal with traffic at off hours on both legs of our travel in Columbus. Both situations were car accidents, and in both, it appeared everyone was ok, which is clearly most important. Again, my daughter took the delay in stride, even insisting that we listen to the game on the radio in the car.
Serendipitously (and maybe intentionally on her part), she dug out Night Night Daddy to read at bedtime - a book no one in my household has chosen for this ritual in a long time.
Life as a parent is a frenzy, and this night was no different. But none of these minor parenting curveballs detracted from what was outstanding time well spent bonding with my youngest child, who just may end up being the biggest hockey fan within my crew.
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CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.