This is the first in a series of posts on the Syracuse Orange parental experience from ShariCuse.
You've dressed your child in a mini-jersey, lil’ cheerleader dress, or the latest Borkowski t-shirt. Tickets in the Tops Family Section are in hand and your toddler knows how to say Otto’s name and cheer, "Go Orange." You think you’re prepared for your long-awaited first trip to the Carrier Dome. But did you remember to pack your purse, diaper bag or man-satchel?
Going to the Dome with a young child requires more planning for me than a full weekend road-trip did pre-parenthood. For my first weekly column about Orange Parenting, I have compiled a list of what you need to bring with you to maximize your game-watching time while introducing your child to the wonders of being an Orange fan.
Bag - Although Carrier Dome rules prohibit large bags and backpacks, I have found that entering through any gate with a child on one hip is a free pass to carrying pretty much anything. As a new parent with a 4-month-old, I had a full diaper bag with blankets, changes of clothes, bottles, and possibly a rocking horse inside, and was waved right through as I opened the top flap of the bag. A few years later, that little girl wore a kid-sized backpack and wasn't searched at all. For an average game, I carry a large purse, and if I make the gesture of showing the unzipped top, the contents seem to be irrelevant to security.
Treats - My two girls associate the Dome with Otto, sports, and lollipops. Again, bringing one's own food is not sanctioned, but a handful of suckers have never raised any eyebrows. Although I'm all on board in fighting childhood obesity, in order to buy a few minutes of freedom from, "Can we go play in the circle sinks?" nagging, I will happily feed candy to my children.
Sippy Cups - I tend to bring them empty so that my purse is lighter and then fill them at the water fountain. Actually, considering the credibility that parenthood seems to bring in the eyes of Dome security, one might just try using an extra as a flask. Just don't get the cups confused.
Toys - Oh, I planned on teaching my children to watch the game, too. I was going to have a 2-year-old who could chant "De-fense!" and a 4-year-old who could berate the officials. Alas, despite my best efforts, I'm lucky to keep them standing and clapping until the first field goal. So out come the Polly Pockets. And dinosaurs. And Legos. And Thomas trains (equal-opportunity parents, here). Fit as many toys as you can into your bag of choice.
Paper and Crayons - I take a stack of standard notebook paper, fold it in half, and it easily slides into my purse. Not only do the kids draw pictures during game time, they also do rubbings of the texture on the seats and cement. They have even made friends with nearby children by sharing paper and crayons. They often request that I participate, and my usual response is, "I came to watch a game, not draw pictures." But sometimes I literally draw up a play in my ongoing efforts to educate.
Money - You can forgo the number one foam hands, but concessions are a must. Be prepared that a request for food will be made each quarter of a game. Being a frugal family, we usually don't eat full meals, but we get a box of popcorn on one trip, a big pretzel on another, and something chocolate to last through the second half.
Ziplock bags - Remember those crayons? They roll. Prevent yourself from having to ask the person in front of you to bend down and collect a crayon. And the popcorn? There's only one box. Prevent arguments by doling out to each child their own portion. The sippy cup? Someone's bound to drink too much water and there will be a line at the bathroom and...
A Change of Clothes - It may be due to potty training or a stranger's spilled beer, but a size 3T pair of pants really doesn't take up that much room. Better safe than sorry. Then the soggy pants can go in the Ziplock bag.
Baby Wipes - Whether it's wiping a face in hopes that it will appear on the big screen or drying tears after the fans got too loud (it will happen), you can never have too many baby wipes. The accompanying diapers are probably second nature if your child is still that young, and be forewarned that diaper changes will somehow be most necessary when the team is in the red zone.
Camera - I'm sure you have a camera with you at all times these days, but I just have to remind you that your preparation efforts will be worth it. Your child will be cute at the Dome, and you will want to record it for posterity.
Is it because I have girls that I have to over-pack for a local event? Within the next few years, I will gradually wean them from these necessities. They'll have to learn to enjoy the games like I did when I was a kid. At least we have the "Go Orange" to fall back on.