There are a lot of ways that having a baby changes you as a person. For one, you realise just how stupidly obvious that statement is.
Your entire life that may have previously revolved around whatever, sport, socialising, now revolves around a tiny human. A tiny human with no sense of timing or circumstances who has a short list of demands that need to be continually met.
There are things you can prepare for and you can think long and hard about how things are going to change but, in reality, you know nothing. Almost nothing will be the same ever again. But in a good way.
You would struggle to find a person more selfish with their time than me. I generally shaped my weeks around sporting events. Football, Golf, NFL, F1, everything. Except Rugby, I tried but I just can’t.
Obviously certain sporting events are bigger than others and the Masters is one of the biggest sporting weekends of the year. I remember watching the Masters as a kid when it was on BBC and back then there was so little else on so it carried more weight, that and the fact that I was a kid and still had some life left in me meant those four days, each year, made a lasting impression.
That kind of tradition is something I’d love to continue with Ben knowing full well he might not care one jot about sports or wanting to spend time with me. I would love if he was excited to watch the Masters every year. He will be his own person of course and in reality the most important thing is that he’s healthy and happy. He might even go full Frasier Crane and love opera and classical music…if that happens, he’ll be Rachel’s right hand man and I’ll be Martin Crane sitting on my beat up chair watching sports and drinking beer, forever a source of consternation to his son with his notions.
So this year, Ben was alive for his first ever Masters. I made sure to explain the significance to him and how I will try to get him a white caddy outfit someday and if he’s lucky I might be able to find some sort of baby Green Jacket for him. I actually looked both of those up and I know where I can get both so it more than likely will happen at some point.
I tried explaining about the significance of Jon Rahm being in contention. I myself am a big fan of Rahm especially when he loses his temper, which is often. I’m a fan of anyone who explicitly says they want to be number one in the world at something and then go and achieve it.
It made me think. I was nervous for Rahm. I didn’t want to see him miss a putt because I feel strangely connected to him. The Irish players get the same reaction from me but not many others. For some reason in my eyes Rahmbo is just another Irish lad I want to see do well. What would it be like if Ben was in contention for the Masters on the final day?
Obviously, if he’s gotten himself to that position he’s a quality golfer but would I ever be able to see him as anything other than my boy and be absolutely terrified that he was going to get his heartbroken by the bouce of a ball? Golf is an amazing sport and the psychology that goes along with it is fascinating.
I cannot fathom the mental effort it would take to survive an errand drive or a clumsy three putt on the final day when there are millions of eyes on you. I am certain that if anyone I knew was in that situation I would need plenty of medical assistance and intervention.
But back to just simply trying to watch it. I explained the importance, I stressed the significance, I laid it out in plain simple terms.
“Ben, I need you to promise me you’ll behave yourself for the next couple of hours. Daddy loves the Masters and for some reason loves Jon Rahm too and it would mean a lot to him if he could watch it unfold without any unpredictable behaviour”
He looked me dead in the eye. He still can’t speak because he’s only six weeks old but in spite of this, I feel like we have developed our own language. I looked him in the eye and this is what he told me.
“What’s that? You want to watch Jon Rahm win the Masters? Because you’re a big Jon Rahm fan? That’s interesting. And where in his round is he? The 9th hole? So he’s just about to reach Amen Corner? And that’s the most iconic stretch of holes in all of golf is it? Oh ok, hold on old sport, I’ve been hanging on to the mother of all meltdowns and I was trying to find just the right time to unleash hell so this seems pretty perfect.”
“Let me assure you, you can pick me up, put me down, feed me, wind me, walk me around the house, sing your depressing country songs, none of it and I mean none of it is going to make the slightest bit of difference. I’m going to tire you out so that both of us fall asleep and neither of us get to see it. Not out of badness, I just absolutely love chaos. I LOVE IT.”
We did get to watch it. He eventually tired himself out and he cooed and made baby noises to the soundtrack of Sunday at the Masters. But the reality is that when he was in distress, when he was desperately seeking something, he was the only thing I cared about. I will tell him about his first ever Masters and how a man with a short fuse and a large temper watched another man with a short fuse and a large temper become a champion.