Sam's Turn to Shine

Sunday afternoon. Labor Day Weekend. Which meant it was Sam’s day to shine. 


The Orioles were in town, so of course we had to make it out to Kauffman Stadium to pay homage to Baltimore. Courtesy of one of Tighe’s friends we also got passes to go onto the field before the game and meet some of the Royals players. So we were at the stadium by 10:30. For a 1:15 start. 


When we were done with the players on the field, we made our way to the Outfield Experience, which consists of a playground, batting cages, carousel, mini-golf, and more. Between that and lunch for Nate, Sam, and Tess, we spent about three months worth of car payments for the new car that Tighe’s been dreaming about.


We made it to our seats just after the national anthem. But our kids were already exhausted.


“If we’re lucky,” Tighe had said that morning, “we’ll make it to the third inning.”


But I was optimistic. I thought maybe the fifth or sixth. We were both wrong. 


Almost immediately, Sam set aim on the seat of the woman in front of us and he started kicking. Before the O’s had scored their first run, he had kicked her seat more times than he kicks the soccer ball in an entire soccer season. And that includes practice. 


I leaned over, gripped his arm, and whispered, “Stop kicking her seat!”


“Okay, I won’t kick her seat,” he replied with deceptive compliance. 


He immediately started kicking at the cup holders that flanked her seat.


“See? I’m not kicking her seat.” He smiled back at me.


And so we battled for a full inning. 


Me: Stop kicking her seat. And Sam: Okay. And then he would continue to kick her seat, under her seat, or the cup holders. 


Finally, after the first out in the top of the second inning, the woman got up and went to the bathroom. Or probably to get a strong drink. At which point, the man she was sitting with turned around. And he was very nice.


“Hey little buddy, can you please stop kicking the seat?”


“Okayyy…” Sam replied to him.


“I’m so sorry!” I said, my face beet red.


“That’s okay,” he said, “I know you’re trying.”


“Ugh, I am!” At least someone listens to me.


“Yeah, it’s a lot of work,” he said. Then, turning to Sam, “You’re just going to have to stop kicking the seat, mmmkay?”


He sounded like Mr. Garrison from South Park.


He turned back around and I leaned across Sam and Nate to Tighe. 


“Can we go now?” I mouthed. He had been ready to go at lunchtime, before we had dropped an entire car payment on a couple soft pretzels and a bag of chips.


He nodded, “Wait until the inning’s over.”


I looked up at the scoreboard. Still two more outs. I’d never cheered againstthe O’s before.


Finally, the Royals defense put me out of my misery. I gathered our belongings from under the seat and started climbing the steps to the main concourse. We had made it one and a half innings. 


We made it to the car and within a few minutes all three kids were asleep. 


“Should we just keep driving? Do we need to stop at the store or anything?” Tighe asked as we approached our street, anxious to extend the silence.


“Um… we need potatoes?” I was grasping at straws.


“We could drop off those clothes!” Tighe said triumphantly, using his thumb to gesture toward the back of the Suburban where we had been storing two bags of clothes to donate for about two months.


“Great idea! And do we need anything at the hardware store?”


“Yeah, I’ll run in and get a flapper for the toilet.” Our downstairs toilet had been leaking recently. All the pieces for a perfect afternoon were suddenly falling into place. 


We pulled into the parking lot of the hardware store that hosted a few of those donation bins and as we did, Sam stirred in the very back of the Suburban. 


Tighe shoved the bags into the bins and I watched him cross the parking lot into the hardware store. (Since we’re so close to Baby #4’s due date, I have to keep really close tabs on Tighe in case he tries to bolt. I mean, could you blame him?)


“I peed my pants!” Sam whined from the back. 


“Are you sure?” I hoped his pants were just still wet from playing in the fountains at the game.


“Yeah, I just did. See? They’re all wet.”


“Oh, good Lord. Okay, take off your underwear and shorts and sit on this towel.” Thank goodness we still had a beach towel in there, leftover from pool season—I don’t want the car seats to smell like urine. More than they already do, anyway.


I rolled my eyes as I watched him struggle to tug his soggy underwear down over his shoes.


“And I still have to pee!”


I looked back toward the store to see if Tighe was coming back yet. He was not. Nate had woken up, but Tess was still sleeping soundly in her car seat.


“Well you’re going to have to wait until we get home.”


“I can’t!”


I looked around the parking lot. It was pretty crowded and there weren’t really any accessible trees, not that Sam’s modest or anything. 

“Just wait, Sam.”


“Would you rather me pee in the car?”


I twisted in my seat and my foot kicked an empty Coke bottle on the floor. 


“Here, can you pee in this bottle?”


Somehow, despite all our road trips, we had never pulled the “pee in a bottle” trick, and Sam was intrigued. 


“Yeah,” he said excitedly, “I can pee in there!”


I tossed the bottle back and while he and Nate giggled, Sam stood up and filled about a fourth of the bottle.


“It looks like juice!”


“Yeah, it does!” Nate shouted, laughing, “I’m so thirsty, I hope I don’t drink it!”


“Nate, if you knowingly drink Sam’s pee, I’m really going to worry about you. Now screw the lid on tightly and pass it back to me.” I shoved the bottle into an empty plastic bag and glanced toward the store’s entrance again.


They continued giggling in that way that boys giggle about the dumbest of things and by the time Tighe returned to the car, Sam was sitting on the towel in the way back, shamelessly playing with himself and laughing hysterically at something Nate had said.


Tighe glanced back, then did a double take at Sam, and turned to me for an explanation. 


“Yeah, there’s a backstory there,” I said, but I was too tired to explain.


As we pulled into our driveway a few minutes later, Sam called out, “I still have to pee!”


“Well, we have five bathrooms inside and several trees in the backyard. I’m not picky at this point.”


I gathered all the junk that families with kids somehow accumulate even on the simplest of outings, including the bottle of Sam’s urine, and crossed the driveway to the house. I tucked the pee bottle into an empty flowerpot so I could toss it into the trashcan in the garage later and walked into the kitchen, where I deposited everything else.


Sam had dumped his wet underwear and shorts on the back porch and was returning to the car to get the beach towel as well, per my nagging requests. He was still only wearing his Royals t-shirt and socks and shoes. I can’t imagine what our neighbors think of us. The wealthy, seemingly sophisticated empty nesters who live next door? Their kitchen windows look directly into our driveway.


Suddenly he paused a few yards from the car and seemed to be glancing down at his penis, but his back was to me, so it was hard to tell.


What is he doing?I thought to myself. 


And then I realized. I glanced to the flowerpot to confirm. The pee bottle was gone. Sam was peeing into the bottle again!


Soon the bottle was almost half-full. 


A few minutes later, he returned to the house with the towel and the pee bottle.


“Give me the bottle.” I hate that I’m such a buzzkill.


“Oh,” he protested. “Why?”


“Because I don’t want that in our house. I’m going to throw it away in the garage.” 


“Why can’t we keep it?”


“What are you going to do with a bottle of your own pee?”


“Can we at least keep it until April Fool’s Day?” 


Ah, his plan was becoming clear. I laughed and continued my march to the garage trashcan, where I put the bottle. I’m assuming it’s still there, but if Nate and/or Sam offer you a Coke bottle that’s half-filled with an apple juice-like substance on or around April first, I would decline. And you don’t have to be polite about it.