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How to Talk To Your Kid About the Mariners

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Because it's never too early to learn that goodness does not always triumph, and mediocrity rarely does

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It's a hard job but someone apparently has to do it
It's a hard job but someone apparently has to do it
Jose Rivera

The worst has happened. Despite utilizing Google Safe Searches, parental controls on ROOT sports, and removing paint swatches in Northwest Green from every hardware store you’ve visited, your child has found out about Mariners baseball. And they’ve started asking tough questions, like, "is there really a team that plays close to here?" and "when can we go to a game?" and "why are you crying?" You now have two options: you can stuff your child into a 12 jersey and send him or her into the backyard to toss a football while you watch the Mariners blow a six-run lead in the eighth, wondering if Roberto Benigni is too old/Italian to play you in your biopic of this moment; or you can pull up a chair, roll up your sleeves, and break the news to your beloved scion: I’m sorry to tell you this, kid, but we are Mariners fans.

Some children are precocious and can learn all about the Mariners from a book.  May I suggest this one? Just make sure you pull out the pages for the Colorado Rockies, because if your child becomes a Rockies fan, well, you’re on your own there.

However, many children refuse to read anything that isn’t presented in a series of dialogue boxes or are contrarian little creatures that demand a back-and-forth as they gleefully sap your remaining energy and will need to be walked through this experience step-by-step. Fear not, parents. We here at LL care about you and your sanity, and have compiled this list of tips.

1. Present a united front

This is no time to allow petty squabbles between you and the other significant adult(s) in the child’s life to complicate your message. So your partner thinks interleague play is stupid or has the mistaken idea that Kyle Seager is a Slytherin. Now is not the time to hash out these issues. That’s what couples therapy is for. Be consistent and clear in your messaging throughout the conversation. Remember, your partner is not the enemy; Carlos Silva is.

2. Give every question a positive reaction
Now that you’ve done the hard work of opening the conversation, you need to see this thing through. The worst thing you can do is let the subject drop and leave your child to find out about Mariners baseball on the playground or at a sleepover. They’ll come home one day asserting that pitcher wins are important to consider in Cy Young voting and you will have to drive down to Safeco and commit seppuku before the metal mitt with a game-used Rickie Weeks bat. So the trick to keeping a conversation rolling is to provide lots of positive feedback, no matter how much it makes your spleen curl up on itself like a potato bug. "What a great question," you will say through gritted teeth, "I’m so glad you asked about Eric Bedard and Adam Jones." (Don’t forget to schedule a follow-up with your dentist after this chat.) "Bobby…Ayala…" you will say, contemplating the blender, "yeah, that’s an interesting story, I can tell you about Bobby Ayala" as you slowly lower your hand towards the spinning blades.  "How did you even FIND OUT about Maury Wills?!" you will scream from beneath the hottest shower you’ve ever taken, before adding: "You must have some great internet search skills!"

3. Go gently into that good night
When you decide to introduce Mariners baseball into your child’s life is a personal decision, but it’s best to start slowly and limit exposure early on, perhaps utilizing a pinhole projector or welder’s goggles. Of course the temptation is to start with a DVD of the ’95 ALDS, but this is an exercise in cruelty. Keep expectations in check with some vintage games from mediocre years such as 1993, 2009, or even 2014. Resist the urge to watch games from last season as you have probably not yet recovered from it; hiding behind the couch every time the Mariners are up with the bases loaded and no outs is not an ideal teaching model for suffering with grace.

4. Don’t shrink away from the pain
You love your children and want to protect them from things that can hurt them, and as a Mariners fan, you know how much it can hurt at times. This is kind of you. However, the world abounds with pitfalls and the monsters that lurk within them, and it is ultimately better to expose your child to heartache early, and equip them with a framework to counteract their feelings of disappointment without the easy but calorie-laden panacea of fermented beverages (important note: if you ever come home to find your child glassy-eyed on the couch watching a game, sucking listlessly at a YooHoo, intervene immediately). Spin this into a positive: it is honorable, brave even, to love the things that need loving. This is also an excellent time to talk about the benefits of living a life free from fear, away from the pressure of a team with an overall winning record.

Ultimately, if you do make the choice to raise a Mariners fan, know that you are raising someone who will one day make an excellent partner and friend: someone who is loyal to a fault, understanding and kind, who has been equipped to take setbacks in stride; someone who is capable of understanding both crushing disappointment and heady moments of glory. It will be a life fully lived, colored by every shade on the emotional spectrum. It will be, in the end, a life much like yours.