A month or so ago a great deal for Blazers tickets/arena food popped up on Groupon, so I jumped at it. I wasn't sure who I'd take in the middle of the week, but in the end, Karin and I decided that I should take Matthew despite being on a school night. He is just getting into sports, and it was a great chance to have some bonding time, which I know means a ton to him (and is one of my favorite ways to spend my time).
I am sure everyone (or at least most people) think their kids are special and that they are fortunate to be their parents, so what I'm about to say may go without saying, but I spent the whole night feeling very blessed to have been entrusted with being the father of such a great kid. He does things every day that make me smile and laugh, and tonight was filled with those moments.
I decided we would take the train to the game to avoid having to park and walk a long way to the arena with him. We weren't the only ones with that idea, because the train was fairly packed, and we ended up standing. Matthew sandwiched himself between a blue-haired girl with a bike (stay weird, Portland!) and two older ladies (sitting, and therefore right at his eye level). One of them asked him a question (I think if he was going to the game), and he spent the next 30 minutes or so in a prolonged conversation with the two of them about everything from basketball to riding the train to Christmas trees/presents to sibling relationships. The highlight for me was probably when he found out they were sisters (who go to every Trailblazers game, apparently) and told them that they kind of looked similar in their faces and that their voices sounded kind of similar. Then he said, "So you are sisters, and also kind of like friends! A brother or sister can also be a friend." (He had already told them that he had a sister named Isabelle and that they fought sometimes). As we walked away toward the arena, he told them, "Now that we met, we are friends!"
We picked up our tickets at will call, and as we walked into the arena and grabbed programs, the lady passing them out asked Matthew hold old he is. When he said "5," she said, "I think you just met my sisters - I am the third one." They obviously had told her something, and it was funny that we walked through her door. He also saw one of the other ladies during halftime and started talking to her again.
I'm amazed at how at ease he is in talking to people and in asking questions. A little before Christmas we went to a party at my boss's house attended mostly by people from her husband's church (he is a pastor). As we put on our coats and got ready to leave, one older gentlemen there said, "Bye Matthew, it was nice to meet you" and talked a bit about the conversation they had.
Of course, this could be a little scary if Matthew is too comfortable with strangers, so we've had to talk to him about how to deal with them when we are not around. But there is something about the way Matthew relates to people that tends to endear him to them (although not always kids his own age), and sometimes I love just sitting back and watching. As he fell asleep on me on the train ride back, I again felt pretty fortunate, and I hope he never loses that piece of his personality.