Surviving the Game

I am in a fairly unique position.

I love NFL football. From September to January, Sundays (and Thursday night, or Monday night, or Saturday night) will find me putzing around the house with the TV on, tuned to the football game of the hour. I don’t watch as many as I used to. And I’m no fanatic — I don’t do fantasy football, or read stats, or watch the draft.

I just like me some good ol’ smash-mouth football.

And if the Steelers are on? I am watching the game. This is non-negotiable.

I am also the mother of two toddler girls.

Back in the day, the Steelers played at 1 p.m. This worked extremely well for me as a mother. At least one kid was napping; the other could be distracted with arts & crafts or even board games — kids’ board games are extremely easy to play in front of the television. Take my word for it.

But this year, if I am not mistaken, the majority of the Steelers’ games have been after 4 p.m. This meant I had two kids on my hands, plus dinner and/or bath time, and a husband who got so wrapped up in the game he forgot all about the rest of the world.

And now they are in the playoffs. Are, as a matter of fact, in the AFC Division Championship game this Sunday.

Last Sunday’s game was challenging — for me, I mean. DearDR went to watch with a friend of his whom he hasn’t seen in awhile. Leaving me home with the two girls, one of whom is still harboring an ear infection, is not napping well, and is a little clingy. And the other of whom is a 4-year-old Drama Queen.

Monkey: Mama, can I go to the kid mall?
Me (trying not to miss the next play): No, Monkey, we’re not going to the kid mall.
Monkey: Why not?
Me: Because Mama is watching the football game.
Monkey: Just turn off the television!

I think instant reply was invented for mothers — or fathers, if by some miracle they end up POD during a football game. I cannot tell you how many times during yesterday’s game I needed the replay to actually see the Big Play of the Drive. And still I missed a touchdown, the muffed punt, the fake field goal, and Ben getting sacked (well, okay, I wouldn’t have wanted to see that anyway).

This, actually, is the number one rule of surviving the game: Realize that you are not going to watch the whole entire game. You may not even get to watch an entire drive. You may not see a touchdown or a completed pass or an interception. If you are going to “watch” the game with your kids (if they are under 6, and/or girls), you have to accept this now.

Otherwise, hire a babysitter and head to a sports bar.

Two: Dinner does not have to be a formal affair. I offered my girls chili (left over) or rice and beans (left over). Monkey declined both offers. She decided she wanted some cheese.

So they got deli slices, cheese, pepperfoni, organic tortilla chips (I included the organic part to make me feel a little better), and (in Bun’s case) Cheez-Its. Plus juice and soy milk. I had some left-over spinach pizza. We barely missed any of the game to eat!

Three: As long as they are not killing each other, let them do stuff you wouldn’t normally let them do. Within reason. Bun and Monkey happily slid down the cushions of our couch; there may have also been some jumping on the couch. I was too amazed that the Chargers had only had the ball for 17 seconds in the third quarter to really pay attention.

Four: Turn out the lights. This was actually Monkey’s idea, and it was awesome. She lay down on the couch to rest; Bun lay on her little couch; I lay on another one. We were pretending to sleep. Monkey complained that she couldn’t get to sleep “with all that noise” (i.e. the football game), so I turned it down. This was good for, like, 15-20 minutes.

Five: If they don’t need a bath, don’t bathe ’em. Unfortunately, my girls needed baths. Monkey had somehow gone two days without one (that may have been because of the birthday festivities the day before). The girls got what we call the Fast Bath (i.e. the shower), and I dried them off and dressed them in pajamas downstairs. I think I only missed the fourth touchdown.

Six: If the game is well-in-hand, let them watch a video while you listen to the last seven minutes on the radio. I know in many households there is more than one television, but not in ours! Heck, we don’t even have a converter box yet. If it were not for Lost, we wouldn’t even bother. But we can’t miss Lost.

And that’s how I survived Sunday’s Steeler game.

I haven’t worked out the details of this Sunday’s game yet. The 6:30 p.m. kickoff time presents another set of problems. If nothing presents itself, there’s always:

Hire a babysitter and head to a sports bar.