As a parent, I spent most of my life on bleachers watching our three sons play sports, or in dugouts coaching them.
That offered no help in preparing me to be a grandparent.
With my six grandchildren, so far in 14 years I have attended exactly one athletic event. That day, it became obvious that one granddaughter had zero interest in soccer. Those other children were kicking at a ball and knocking each other down. She wanted no part of it, although she did like the shoes.
Instead, grandparenting has involved sitting quietly in auditoriums, watching children sing and dance.
On the upside, auditorium seating tends to be far more comfortable than bleachers.
On the downside … dance recitals.
My first dance recital, last spring, lasted two hours, during which my granddaughter was on stage for two minutes.
This year, two granddaughters will be performing in the recital, so I’m hoping for four minutes or more.
Maybe I need an attitude adjustment.
This started me thinking about how much time my sons actually were in action during their youth baseball games.
A standard Little League game lasts about 90 minutes. Subtract 15 minutes between innings, when players are warming up and parents are buying popcorn.
Between the two teams, 18 players are in the batting order. At best, your kid will be in the batter’s box 1/18 of the time, which comes out to about four minutes.
That’s assuming your kid stays in the game for all six innings.
For half of each game, your child is playing defense and might be involved in a play at any moment, so you have to pay attention.
Everything changes if your kid is a pitcher, which means you sweat profusely on every pitch and occasionally berate the umpire’s judgment.
Dance recitals and choir concerts offer no outlet for angry verbal outbursts, but you can vent your frustrations at a ballpark without everyone staring in shock.
In baseball, even when your kids are sitting in the dugout, waiting for a turn at bat, you might be on the edge of your seat.
If my kid’s teammate is at the plate, with victory or defeat hanging in the balance, I take keen interest.
Maybe I’ll learn to be equally attentive at a dance recital, during the 95 percent of the time when somebody else’s kid is dancing. My attitude adjustment is a work in progress.
I will be wide awake in another auditorium soon, when Betsy and I see the hit musical “Hamilton.”
We’ve been waiting 3 1/2 years for our chance, but we’re not alone. Tickets continue to be snapped up as fast as they go on sale. At least prices have fallen to where we didn’t need a loan.
I discovered “Hamilton” in late 2015, when I first heard the unlikely story of a rap musical about the Founding Fathers. Say what?
I sampled a couple of songs from the soundtrack, and “Hamilton” became an obsession.
Despite what you read earlier, our sons like music as much as sports. I badgered one son to listen to a tune from “Hamilton” called “Satisfied.” He rolled his eyes and tolerated me politely.
Six months later, the same son told me I just had to listen to “Hamilton,” especially the amazing song, “Satisfied.”
“I tried to tell you that last summer,” I responded. It was my turn to roll my eyes.
Before long, my musical grandchildren had memorized the entire show and were singing along to the soundtrack from the back seat of our car.
My wife’s uncle, however, is not impressed that we finally scored tickets for “Hamilton.”
The show takes too many liberties with American history, he complained. This would matter to John, who’s written a dozen nonfiction history books.
It’s not his style of music, he continued. It wasn’t mine, either, until I heard it.
Finally, he took offense when the cast of Hamilton “disrespected” Vice President-elect Mike Pence by addressing him directly when he watched the show on Broadway in November 2016, asking him “to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
Pence himself said he was not offended. Obviously, Uncle John is not a Hoosier, or he would have learned long ago to take controversy about Mike Pence as just another day of political theater.