|Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, Dodgers vs. Cardinals, March 2005|
Some would call it the vacation from hell. Others might just say it is a stage in child rearing that many of us go through. All I know is that I remember it as being not the most pleasant of experiences.
In March, 2005, I took my son, then 15 years old, to a Florida Spring Training vacation. I was rewarding him for the best grades he had ever received. It was also going to be his birthday, and I thought some alone time would allow us to bond.
I almost felt like I owed this to him. You see, I raised my son a Dodger fan in the middlle of Giant country. And in his prime childhood years, there was a good 7-8 year period where the Giants really owned us (’97-2003). It wasn’t easy for him to talk sports with his friends growing up. We had gone to many Giant-Dodger games at both the Stick and the Phone Co. Park and watched us get our tails whipped. It almost got to a point that it wasn’t fun anymore. Then, 2004 happened.
It was magical season with a tight pennant race. When Steve Finley clinched the Division with that walk-off grand slam, my son and I tackled each other in the living room in an embrace of euphoria. It was a fantastic moment. Something I'll never forget.
So I thought that a visit to 2005 Spring Training would be a special time of father-son bonding. But I forgot one thing. Sometime between October 2004 and March 2005, my son began to realize that he knew more than I did. Yes, he became a true rebellious teenager. There wasn’t much I said to him that he would listen to. He thought he knew it all. And looking back at that time period, he handled it much better than I. But even he will admit today that he was very difficult to be around.
So against my better judgement, we flew to Orlando anyway. We got a rental car and drove the first night to Vero Beach where I had booked one night in a hotel on Hwy 60 for the night.
The following “lowlights” proceeded to occur:
- The first night that we stayed in the hotel. There were loud construction workers staying at the hotel that were in town completing many repairs on hurricane ravaged buildings, and they kept us up all night with their late night partying. A fight broke out in the parking lot and police arrived. It was quite interesting.
- We had tickets for the Red Sox-Dodgers game that following morning. It rained out. The only thing we accomplished was getting a haircut downtown and touring the facility with umbrellas.
- Drove to the time share property we would be staying at near Orlando and had issues getting into the facility due to a mix up with the reservation.
- We went to Disney World to replace the game. Not a good idea on a rainy day. We had a silly argument over something insignificant that I can’t even remember that caused us to split up and lose each other for a stressful hour and a half.
- There was a lot of silent time driving in a rental car while my son tuned me out and listened to his music, headphones on, music blaring into his ears.
- Unrelated to the headphones, my son came up with an ear infection on one early morning that resulted in a 3 am visit to an emergency room. We ended up waiting for 3 hours to be attended to, eventually giving up and leaving. Then we went to the game at Holman Stadium, only to have to leave early because the ear ache flared up again, and we made a second emergency room trip in Vero Beach.
|Dioner Navarro signs for fans at Vero Beach, 2005|
So anyway, I was discussing the possibility that I may travel to Arizona Spring Training this year and my (now 21 year old) son said that he has no negative memories of that 2005 vacation. He tells me that it was an absolute blast and how much he enjoyed being up close with the players, talking to Rick Monday, meeting friends from the Dodger message boards. And he remembered the little things. We went miniature golfing at a park surrounded by alligators, we went into some crazy haunted house and got scared to death, we shot pool in game room at the time share property.
And I realized something... it was a bonding experience. He didn't remember the negatives.
I guess we're going to Spring Training together again this year.
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