Several weeks ago, before GoofBoy headed off to sleep-away camp, I decided to do something special for him. I took him to an Oriole game at Camden Yards. Naturally, as is my wont, I told him nothing about it until we were on the light rail heading into Baltimore.
As a last minute bonus, a friend and his son joined us at the game and we had a great time. Nice shaded seats, good company, and our beloved Orioles won in a close well-played game. We don't go to many ballgames - that's my fault because our region offers two major league and at least four minor league teams in a reasonable driving distance. I particularly like the minor league games because they much cheaper, much faster, far more convenient, and nicely intimate (sometimes you can actually hear the players on the field.) Also, I've been on strike against the Major Leagues since 1992 when they cancelled the World Series - I only go to ball games for people I care about, like GoofBoy.
But Camden Yards is a beautiful place to see a game and it was a very nice and special day.
There was a small problem.
"Daddy, you always take my brother on special things but not me," GoofGirl pouted.
When I was little, my younger brother once called my father cheap. That set my dad off because, whatever his failings (and we all have them) he was NOT cheap. I remember several times my expressing an interest in some computer game that was $20 (a lordly sum to my early adolescent self) and he would order it on the spot.
This came close, but I only yell on strict discipline issues, and I could tell that she felt slighted.
"Nina, you might be right. Can you give me some ideas of special things we could do?"
"Well, there is this cute kitty stuffed animal..."
"Now that's part of the problem, your only idea for special things is stuffed animals. You already have too many. I want to do special things with you, but I am not just going to buy you more stuffed animals. If you want me to take you to a museum or to a park - whatever you like, but no more stuffed animals."
"I'd like to go to New York!"
"No, that isn't realistic for a little surprise."
"So everything my brother wants he gets, but you won't do the things I want for me!" GoofGirl wailed.
"No, that is not it. I would love to take you to New York. I will take you to New York. But that is not the same as taking your brother to a baseball game."
"It's not fair!"
"It is fair, what you want is out of proportion."
"Is that a big word for why you love my brother more then me?"
"I love you both the same - which is more then anything. Going to New York is a very big deal, much bigger then going to a ballgame. Two tickets to the game cost about $100," GoofGirl's eyes grew wide at this, "and the game and getting to Baltimore took about five hours. OK?"
GoofGirl nodded, the mention of money got her attention.
"But," I continued, "Just going to New York would take five hours. So we would need to go for a couple of days to make it worth it. That means a hotel room in New York which is probably going to cost at least $200 a night. So you see, a trip to New York needs a lot of time, money, and planning. Doing that would be a much, much bigger deal then a baseball game. Now can you tell me somethings you are interested in that smaller then that?"
"Well, I'd like to see an ocelot," GoofGirl said, she had done a big paper on ocelots for school.
"Well, OK! Remember that zoo in Salisbury on the way to Ocean City? I am pretty sure they have an ocelot. That would be a great little day trip. We'll do it! But one thing. We can't bring their ocelot home with us - if that's what you were thinking."
"Darn," she muttered, my efforts to reason shattered.
Fortunately, GoofGirl cheered up later. While her brother and I were at the game - Bubbe took her to Build-a-Bear and she got a new stuffed animal.