It was the perfect opportunity to accomplish several goals at once. The race series that my Dad works for (American Le Mans) was in Atlanta, and Noah has been needing to go to “Pop’s Races.” I’ve been craving some nature while the leaves are changing, and have also been desperately wanting to meet up with a dear friend from Charleston, Barkley, and her son (my godson) Woods.

And, Patrick Dempsey races in My Dad’s series. Not that he’s a draw or anything.

Ali hates loud noises, and it had already been decided that she and Chris would be attending the Alabama game together. So it was a perfect fit that Barkley and I have a weekend double date with our sons.

On Thursday, I was highly uncertain as to its outcome. I hadn’t been feeling well, and Noah’s stomach was rebelling against some unknown enemy and leaving a trail of dirty diapers in the wake. He even felt puny to the point of stealing mine and Ali’s chairs during school to transform them into a bed.


Furthermore, I had an insanely busy morning on Friday and left Birmingham at the perfect time to hit Atlanta rush hour traffic, leaving me feeling hopeless about life and amazed at how FANTASTIC I am at avoiding traffic in Birmingham.


We finally arrived at our serene spot on the lake and found Barkley and Woods. Yes, this was just what we needed to unwind.


My Dad joined us and we left for dinner, where Noah came within a millimeter of taking out a 90-year-old cane-bearing lady by choosing the ideal second to tip over his chair (and therefore himself) backwards and into her.

Yes, that was just what I needed to unwind.

Her daughter (or perhaps great-great-great granddaughter) returned with her a second time, waving her arms as frantically as a Biggest Loser contestant in the middle of a set of jumping jacks and yelling at Noah, “LOOK OUT!! COMING THROUGH!!”

Message received.

But when we got back to the house and put the boys to bed and I collapsed on the couch and FINALLY relaxed, it was glorious.

On Saturday morning, we made our way to Road Atlanta. My Dad managed to sweep in on a golf cart and find us among the throngs of Ferraris and Motorhomes before we’d even gotten the car unpacked, and that made for some very happy little boys.


The VIP tour included a trip down to the Paddocks,


Onto the race track,


Introductions to drivers who nearly weighed less than Noah (apparently car racing requires the same diet as horse racing and modeling),


Letting us get as close as we’re ever going to get to Patrick Dempsey – or at least his car,


Taking us back to the paddocks,


Introducing the boys to more race crews,


And then showing us around his office: the Inspection (i.e. Anti-Cheating) Tent.


The boys found this to be the best location of the entire race, running and falling and running and falling.


And running and falling.


And then Dad showed them the lift.


Making it the best day of their lives.

Despite the fact that they would have been gleefully happy playing there for the rest of the day, the race did start, and Noah learned proper National Anthem Decorum from Pop.

National Anthem

And then there were fireworks.

Unexpected, close-by fireworks.

Un-Noah-Approved Fireworks that created much terror and screaming.

And just when I got him calmed down, his earplugs in, and over to the fence where we could watch the races, there was an encore round of Fireworks.

And that’s when he made the logical decision that if he kept his eyes stitched shut, no more fireworks could possibly occur.


And actually, it worked.


While Barkley and Woods picked out their favorite cars,


.And I attempted to get photos as all the cars came back to the pits due to erroneous tire choices,


Noah continued in his blind attentiveness.


He finally convinced Pop that he needed to go back to his office, where he FaceTimed with my Mom – because that’s something you can only do when you drive four hours to go to the races.


We finally let my Dad get back to work, and took the boys into the stands to watch a bit.


…Or at least those willing to USE THE EYES GOD GAVE THEM.

Okay, he did open them a couple of times, IMG_1616

But he was much more interested in performing flyovers with his airplane than in watching the race, much to the chagrin of the freshly waxed Corvette in the Handicapped spot next to the bleachers.


We then took the boys back to the pits to see if we could spot a particular Mister Dempsey. We did not, but that didn’t keep us from imagining that one of those pairs of legs belonged to him.


Noah got in on the search, jamming his nose up to the fence,


then asking loudly, “Where’s Patwick DEMPSEY, Mommy?!?!?”


It began to rain while we tailgated for lunch, so we left the racers to finish their ten hours without us.


The boys spent the afternoon using as little energy as possible to play cars while we expended even less energy sprawled on the couches.


We went down to the lake to dutifully share our dinner with the fish,


And make our husbands back home a smidge jealous.





And I took the opportunity to enjoy the one well-behaved tree giving me the ambiance of autumn that I so desired.


After I put Noah to bed, my Dad texted me from the races and asked, “Are you seeing this?”


Causing me to fall off the couch, fight a losing battle with the sliding door, and nearly fall down the steep stairs to the lake to make it just in time to snag a piece of my favorite therapy.


But it was totally worth it. Even if we do hear from that 90-year-old lady’s lawyer.

16 thoughts on “First Date With a Toddler.

  1. Sooooo more than ever I am now convinced that it was a God Thing that I found this blog…. have i told you that my dad (aside from also having eye issues, albeit a bit more drastic than your dad’s ended up being) is a huge racing fan? When I was growing up my father was the track chaplain at our local speedway, I also love racing… am a tad jealous you got to spend time in the pits!! When I was growing up, if my dad was away, I got to do the prayer etc in the pits with the drivers and crew, but thats a much smaller scale than a huge race like this! Such good memories!

  2. Is Patrick Dempsey the Grey’s Anatomy one? McDreamy or whatever? (I’ve never seen that show.) He is one of a group of three or four actors that I always get confused.

    1. He is, but I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy. I really hadn’t seen him in much of anything except 80’s movies (Can’t Buy Me Love) until Chris and I watched a miniseries about Patrick at Le Mans to see if we saw my Dad. He was very pretty in that. :-)

  3. Your sunset photo over the lake is beautiful. Looked like a fun time with your boy!! I cannot lie, I was so hoping this was going to include a snapshot of McDreamy at some point.

  4. Wow, that looks like a boy’s dream weekend! So fun that you got to do it with friends! And wow, your dad has a cool job! I laughed out loud at Noah’s excited expression at raising less than two feet off the ground. Haha, kind of like my kids getting more excited about the airport train “ride” than any of the rides at Disney World. :P

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