There are five words I don't think I've ever heard myself say:
"I LOVE TRYING NEW THINGS!"
I don't. I like sticking to the normal (boring) things I always do. I like eating the same thing for breakfast every day, shopping at the same store that has a certain kind of pants that I really like, and ordering the same thing that I know I'll like at a restaurant.
But sometimes it's good to do something new because it changes your perspective -- and if you do it with a kid, it changes your perspective even more.
Last week Richard had bought two tickets for him and Jonathan to go to the Kingston Frontenacs hockey game on Friday night. Jonathan really enjoys these outings, so they try to go several times every season. I have never been too interested in accompanying them; I'd rather stay home and read or watch a period-piece movie, maybe play a game with Allison. But during the day on Friday, Richard came down with a flu bug and knew he wouldn't be well enough to go with Jonathan -- so I did.
What an adventure!
First of all, it quickly became clear that I wasn't taking Jonathan on this outing; he was letting me come along only because he needed to be accompanied by an adult. When we got out of the car several blocks from the K-Rock Centre, he walked so fast toward the arena that I had to run to keep up with him. He knew exactly where we were supposed to turn off, pointing and saying "That way!" with authority. He saw some guys in caps and hockey jerseys standing outside the arena and said "HI!" to them with a big smile, as if to be sure they knew that he was going to the game too. When we lined up to have our tickets scanned, he tried to go to the front of the line, shouting "EXCUSE ME!" Fortunately everyone was really patient and seemed to enjoy his enthusiasm.
Finally we got to our seats and I could catch my breath. We knew our friend Gary and his daughter Courtney (who is one of Jonathan's camp counselors at Extend-a-Family) were also going to be at the game, so I texted them and they came over to chat before the game started. Jonathan enjoyed that, but he wasn't shy about saying "Bye" when he was ready for them to go back to their own seats.
Then for the next couple of hours Jonathan and I reveled in the sights and sounds of the event. He enjoyed standing for the national anthem, which he's very familiar with from school, and he loved bobbing his head to the bursts of loud music that came on whenever play stopped -- especially "I Like to Move It Move It."
Given Jonathan's interest in garbage, recycling, and sweeping, he was understandably fascinated by the staff who skated out with brooms and shovels to clean up the ice. Every time a player removed his helmet to towel away sweat, Jonathan got concerned and yelled, "HAT ON!" He clapped at random times. But because there was already so much noise, he could be as loud as he wanted, whenever he wanted. Let the record show that there wasn't a single "Shhh" from me the whole evening.
There were a lot of empty seats in the rows near us, but a man came in alone and sat in the seat directly in front of us; he was probably in his 50's and appeared to have some sort of intellectual disability. He had a clipboard with him and some papers with hockey stats. Jonathan periodically tapped him on the shoulder to say hi and give him a beaming smile, and pretty soon the guy was turning around to us regularly to make comments about the game or respond to something Jonathan had said.
Halfway through the third period Jonathan started getting restless and repetitive, saying "Home? Home?" -- but he stuck it out until the final buzzer. The outcome (Frontenacs won 5-4) didn't matter all that much to him, but he was very glad to be given the task of putting his granola-bar wrapper into the garbage can before we descended the stairs and went back out onto the street. The excitement of the outing made it a little difficult for him to settle to bed after we got home, but eventually he went off to sleep -- a happy guy.
Next time hockey-game night comes around, he'll probably say "Mommy hockey game?" I don't know if I'll go next time or not; I think I still prefer staying home to read. But I had a good time. Observing Jonathan's enjoyment of the simplest details, and his desire to share his excitement with others, reminded me that it can actually be a lot of fun to try something new.