Matt's friend had us all set up, so we did get to have Harper participate in last night's toddler race at the Dayton Dragons game. One of the employees stopped us just as we came in and asked how old Harper was. She was looking for children to be in the toddler race. We told her she was 20 months old and the lady started to say that she was probably too old. Then we told her we thought Harper was already signed up to participate. The trouble was that they want the race to last about 90 seconds and it's supposed to be funny. So if one kid runs straight to his/her parent and wins, there's less humor to be had. I really wanted Harper to participate, so we promised we'd do what we could to make sure she didn't just take off. (Sin of omission, I did NOT tell her we'd spent half an hour saying, "On your mark. Get set. Go!" and having Harper race between us.) As it turned out, we needn't have worried. . .
Harper was the first racer to arrive and she picked the yellow t-shirt to race in, which we also got to keep. It has a large "D" with a dragon tail on the back. The front says something like, "I was in the toddler race at a Dayton Dragons baseball game." Pretty cute. They put her shirt and a helmet on her and took her picture. That photo appeared on the scoreboard when they announced the participants. They didn't want us to meet to get ready for the race until the middle of the fifth inning, so we had a long wait.
We enjoyed the first few innings of the game in our seats with Nana and Dzaitku. Fortunately, Harper was pretty well entertained by the action on the field, the music, and her snack cup full of pretzels. I was glad she didn't need to get up and walk around because I was very anxious about rogue peanut shells. One gentleman at the end of our row did open a bag of peanuts, but Ann politely asked him just to keep the shells in his space. I'm sure he thought we were crazy, but I'm wasn't taking any chances.
It was nearly 90 degrees here at game time, which I know is cooler than many places in the country, but we still tried to keep Harper hydrated. Her cheeks were flushed and her nose was sweaty all night.
It finally came time for us to meet for the toddler race. I left our camera with Mike and Ann to take photos, even though they'd be pretty far away. Once all the racing toddlers had been assembled, we got to go down into the under regions of the ball park. We walked down several long hallways and stopped just outside the one leading to the Dragons' dugout. Harper was the oldest of all the racers, there was also an 18-month-old (blue shirt) and a 13-month-old who could hardly stay on his feet (red shirt). We waited until there were two outs in the bottom of the fifth, then we got to go stand just outside the dugout where, horror of horrors, there were peanut shells everywhere! I had a moment of panic and then just tried to breathe deeply and held her very tightly!
After the third out they started to announce the toddlers and we were hustled out into foul territory on the third base line. It was very strange to see Harper's picture on the huge screen. I went to the starting line with Harper while Matt waited at the finish. There was a little bugle music and they were off! Sort of. Remember, Harper was wearing yellow and was in the lane closest to the dugout.
The start was less than thrilling. There was a ton of noise, but none of the toddlers went very far. If I had initially told Harper to run to her daddy, she probably would have taken off, but we were so worried about her being too fast, I didn't really encourage her. Harper took about three steps, then turned to look at me and sat down.
Then she laid on her back. Then she started kicking her feet. I was laughing so hard I was crying. I couldn't breathe well enough to tell her to turn around and get moving. Which was fine, as she wouldn't have heard me anyway.
Then Harper turned her head to the side and noticed the ballplayers staring at her from the dugout. She went into a sort of trace, apparently mesmerized by all those athletes! Eventually the little boy in red started playing with her sandal, which broke her trance. She finally heard me yell, "Go to Daddy!" So she rolled over and started to crawl. Crawl! Harper only crawled on her hands and knees for about three seconds of her life, and now she was crawling in a race. I don't pretend to understand.
For a few seconds it looked like she might actually make it to the finish line first, but about two feet short she laid back down and the little girl in blue was persuaded to cross the line. Oh well.
After all that excitement, we decided to head home. It was already about an hour and a half past Harper's bedtime, which may have had something to do with the fact that she fell into a trance when she should have been racing.
The Dragons won the game 2-1 in the 14th inning, when we were all alseep!