It's a quandary all sports parents with multiple children face at some point: Do we make the kids attend their siblings' games or not?
I think it's important for children to realize that the world does not revolve around them, and occasionally they will be asked -- OK, forced -- to attend a game to watch an older or younger sibling play. At the same time, as parents we have to have realistic expectations as to how those siblings are going to want to spend their time at a game, and prepare ourselves for it.
We can't expect a 4-year-old to sit and cheer for his older brother at a baseball game, one in which the sibling might not touch the ball in the field and only gets to bat two or three times (and inevitably one of those at-bats will be when the sibling is in the port-a-john with mom or dad).
I took my 3-year-old to watch the neighbor play last week and his attention sitting in the bleachers lasted as long as the popcorn did, and then he was gone, running around and through a flowerbed playing tag with the neighbor's older sister. Soon, several other sports siblings joined them. And my guess is half the players would have loved to.
Rather than get upset, a group of us parents decided we would each take turns supervising the tag game while the rest sat and enjoyed the baseball game. We made sure that if the supervisor's child got up to bat, he or she was relieved from the command post to come watch. It worked perfectly.
By the end of the game, the parents all felt like they participated as fans as well as responsible adults, and just as importantly, the non-playing siblings felt they had a great time and couldn't wait to come back to the next game.
Sure, as parents we'd love it if we could just sit in the bleachers and enjoy a game with some popcorn and a cold hot dog from the concession stand, but the reality is that with siblings running around, that's just not going to happen.
The key is to accept this fact going into the game, plan for it, and hope that when your child makes the diving catch in the field, you aren't the one on duty pulling some fallen toddler out of a bush.
Reach Jon Buzby at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jonbuzby.