We had a home game tonight vs. Atlanta. (The good guys won, 4-3. Very good game.) We were a bit nervous taking Athena to this game, because we had to leave the last home game we attended at the end of the second period. Athena was so grumpy and tired that we simply couldn't stay.
Fortunately, tonight, the game was not crowded (can you say Rose Bowl?) and so there was a little room for Athena to play and move around. She did so with gusto, and she -- as always -- won the hearts of those around her.
I am really amazed at how tolerant people are of toddlers in general. Pre-children, I never really cared if there was a toddler nearby or not. I really never even noticed them for the most part. And since this is the sixth year we've sat in the same seats at the hockey games, I can also say that we don't frequently get toddlers in our section. We are changing that trend. A woman down the row from us had a baby a few months ago, and of course I'm due in a couple more months... so children will become the rule in our section... not the exception.
Anyway, back to the game... Athena kept smiling at the people sitting behind us, and they were more than willing to talk to her and smile back. Then she spotted Stormy the Ice Hog (team mascot... and no, I have no idea what an ice hog is) and she ran over to talk to him. Soon, she had so charmed Stormy's assistant that she earned a Hurricanes logo temporary tattoo. She has gotten one of these before, so she immediately took it to Daddy and pointed to the back of her hand, where she wanted it applied immediately. Being the supermom that I am, I reached into the diaper bag and brought out some napkins and a bottle of water. Am I good or WHAT?!
She was so thrilled with her hand tattoo that she kissed it. No lie, she actually kissed the tattoo affixed to the back of her hand. I thought my heart would burst it was so darn cute. So she headed back over to the rail to talk to some of the crew. We sit very close to one of the breezeways that lead to the "backstage" area. It's a prime location for spotting mascots, cheerleaders, famous (and not-so-famous) hockey wives (Kristi Yamaguchi is married to one of our star defensemen) and intermission talent. Yes folks, I've been within touching distance of Clay Aiken. Are you jealous yet?. Within moments, the security guard who keeps the riff raff from charging down the stairs and into the breezeway came down from his post to give her yet another tattoo.
She could not believe her luck! She took it right back to Daddy and pointed to the back of her OTHER hand. Water. Napkins. Done. She was THRILLED! So now she knew the secret. She hung out by the rail for the rest of the game. Sure enough... not long after the seond tattoo was in place, she charmed the Storm Squad girls who were stationed nearby. (She loves to watch them dance and imitate them. Personally, I'm trying to decide if they are really the role models I want for her...) Lo and behold, a third tattoo was soon hers. We tried to explain that she didn't have any more hands, and we'd have to save it for later. Soon, she conceded, and we stashed it for Friday's game.
We've also been given (well, SHE has been given) two official hockey pucks since we started taking her to games. Before that, in the past five years we have attended these games, we received exactly ZERO pucks. But this year, two already. Both used in-game. Both were handed to her by real NHL referees. Pretty cool.
So any doubts I may have had early in parenting about taking children to sports events have been completely washed away. Sure, you have to be flexible. Chris had to take her upstairs twice tonight to change diapers. And as I said, just last week we had to leave early because she just couldn't take it. But overall, she has a great time. The noise, cheering, and lights really seem to stimulate her senses, and when we get home, she is exhausted and sleeps well. It's not like trying to take her to a movie. It's far more interactive and fun for her. Now I just wonder when she will start actually watching the hockey...