My husband works for a professional sports team. Don’t be confused. He isn’t a professional athlete. If that were the case, I would get my nails done weekly… or something like that. Instead, I find myself attending many more sporting events than the average thirty-something woman who is not a superfan. I am a fan and I love to see the team win, but my purpose in attending is much simpler. They feed me there and my children are entertained by something other than an electronic device.
The families of players and staff are afforded many luxuries due to the generosity of the team’s owner and kindness of the arena staff. I’m talking everything from special parking in a gated lot to hot dinner in the media room to a suite for watching games. It goes beyond that though. Ms. Mildred and Mr. Conway who are the elevator attendants know my kids’ names and let them push the buttons. Ms. Michelle, the suite attendant, makes sure all of their favorite treats are available in small quantities. Todd at Arena Control (i.e. the back door where I can shuffle the kids in and out) always reminds me how precious my kids are and to enjoy them.
To be fair, it isn’t all sipping Grey Goose and Crystal with a butler by my side. My husband on game days often leaves before anybody wakes up so that he can be home for a few hours mid-day before heading back to work and often not getting home until 1:00 a.m. Weeknight games he doesn’t make it home at all until his work is done around midnight. He usually has time to have dinner with us if we make it to the game. It’s quick, but nice for all of us. Did I mention someone else makes me dinner? Maybe it is a little sipping Grey Goose-like.
This weekend we went to the game and it was about the usual. Well, except there were ice cream treats in the media room, which went over very well with the kids. The team won in overtime and it was an exciting game. I find that collecting ourselves to leave is always a production. We’re all tired and mostly just done. Pajamas go on the kids in case they fall asleep on the way home, but so do jackets and boots. Blankies are doled out. I check a dozen times whether we have forgotten anything. (Care to guess the most forgotten item? My coat!!! Usually with my keys in the pocket.)
On our way out we get caught up (okay… I get caught in a lie, because I told Bigs that the game was over, but it really went into overtime, which he realizes, because the game is still on the TVs by the elevator exit) talking to Ms. Mildred about the impending arrival of her 12th grandchild. Littles starts to lose it, so we move along. We head into the “bowels” of the arena and a man I’ve never seen politely smiles and holds the door as I push Bigs through while trying to wrangle Littles in her tears. As we are walking, I realized I forgot to text my husband that we are leaving. He texts back that he will meet us at Arena Control.
We wait and wait and wait. Littles has started murmuring, “Daddy” over and over. Bigs has started using his blankie like a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon right at the rear doors where the opposing team’s assistant equipment manager is trying to drag equipment out to the bus. The assistant coach’s wife swings through and stops to chat with me. I have no idea what she said beyond that she was parked in and I offered her a ride home, because I knew I wouldn’t be. I must have said a thousand times to Bigs, “Please pay attention to your surroundings,” or some version therein. My husband finally arrives for bedtime hugs and kisses with the kids.
Meltdown ensues. Littles’ murmurs have become full on shrieks. People are trying to avoid us, but it is impossible. She is screaming, “I need one more hug,” as my husband is trying to get back to something productive. In hopes that she might just need one more hug, I let her get one. Hahaha. You guessed it, she needed a zillion more. The world starts spinning around me as her screams make me want to shrink into a hole never to be found again. I pull us together to head out to the car.
The same guy who held a different door is standing there again staring at me like we are a car accident that must be gawked at. The only thing I notice about him is that he is an extremely large human, not overweight, but humongous in every way. He has a look on his face like I should know him, but I have never met him in my life. He again holds the door open, because my hands are full with an obedient 5 year-old and a screaming, writhing, agitated 3 year-old. Todd gives a wave as we walk past and tells me it will get better. We tromp through the parking lot as Littles’ voice reverberates through the tall city buildings screaming, “Daddy!” The opposing team’s bus driver gives me a glare like I might be kidnapping her, but as we get closer it turns to more disapproving than concern.
It seems like hours passed, but it wasn’t that long. It only felt that way because one child sobbed the entire ride home while the other complained that he couldn’t hear Taylor Swift on the radio. Bedtime was exhausting. When the house was quiet and I finally crawled into bed, I scrolled through Facebook to find a picture of the strange door holder in the team’s feed. He was a special guest at the game signing autographs… a professional wrestler. (Seriously, guys! Pro wrestlers are much larger than professional anything players… except maybe basketball.) I felt a bit like a jerk, but I also wondered, “Why couldn’t he have laid the smack down with my kids?” If only I had known who he was, I would have asked.