We had scheduled one final soirée in London. It was to be the night before we would make the transatlantic journey through the air to get back home after three weeks abroad. It was one last chance to live it up together in London town.
Much had happened since we hopped from Heathrow over to Ireland a couple of weeks earlier — some good, some not — but the single best change was reflected by the mercury in a thermometer. Gone were the crippling days, and that’s not an exaggeration in the least; London’s infrastructure was capitulating under the unmerciful sun and unusual 96-degree heat, and sticky, stale nights, and in its place was a crisp, clear Friday evening in West London some 30 degrees more pleasant. There would be no sweat stains this time around. We were back in London for football and shopping for football swag – such is our life now thanks to my obsession with the sport.
Before the first match of the English football league ’16 – ’17 season, a game pitting recently relegated Newcastle against Fulham at the legendary (and charmingly-named) Craven Cottage, we squeezed our way into the broom closet that is the Fulham FC team shop alongside throngs of home supporters eager to snatch up the new range of Visit Florida-sponsored gear. I bought a bright red Fulham away kit and a scarf (I buy one from every football match I attend and hang them rather obnoxiously on the wall of our TV room. My wife thought this was cute after 2-3, but, well, I’ve been to quite a few more games since). My youngest daughter selected dashing yellow Fulham FC shorts, yet another pair of goalkeeper shorts, her 3rd across 3 divisions of English football acquired in the past 36 hours (Southampton and Portsmouth, the others). Please don’t read that as me bemoaning her sudden and rapidly growing collection of football apparel. I’m genuinely pleased she’s found, in active fashion wear, something with which to enjoy my favorite sport alongside me, but damn, those digs don’t come cheap and, well, she’s a ridiculously messy kid.
This represents a strange intersection of childhood; here’s a kid who is getting older, finding her passions, developing a unique fashion sense, and getting into her own thing which is totally exciting and something I, as her dad, want to support but at the same time she’s still an incredibly messy eater — were talking born-again toddler level of grossness. Her expensive new outfits and her penchant for spilling EVERYTHING on herself is a bad combination anywhere but it’s especially confounding while some 4000 miles away from home.
This is why when I’m traveling with the kid I call The Mouse, I’m also traveling with both the Clorox2 Pre-Treat Stain Removal and Bleach Pens. These slim carry-ons are nearly as essential as my passport and my Android charging cable because within hours of her buying and pulling on her new blue, yellow or purple goalie shorts, there could be anything from balsamic vinegar to hummus to ketchup to grass stains to blood on them. I love seeing her rocking football gear but loathe throwing money away – so I’ve got to keep her new duds clean.
While on the road in foreign countries together as a family with little access to laundry, the Clorox2 Pens help keep my kids looking sharp and me from wasting money on clothes that are instantly ruined by a goofy kid who, even at nearly 10-year-old, is a complete mess.
As soon as we passed through the turnstiles of the Johnny Haynes stand at Craven Cottage, my little goalie wannabe asked to find a bathroom so she could put on her Fulham shorts, hoping that her bright yellow bottoms would bring good luck to the home team. As we sat 6 rows from the pitch, she and we oohed and aahed with every near miss, each over-lapping run down our side of the field and, finally, just on the stroke of halftime, we cheered the headed goal from a corner kick that would eventually seal victory for Fulham and send us and the true West London faithful home happy.
As for the drips of steak and onion pie my daughter dribbled on herself and her new football clothes during the 2nd half, no worries — Clorox FC and we were victorious in the stands that night as well.
*OWTK is a Clorox brand ambassador and has received compensation for this story. All opinions expressed in the story above are honest and unbiased, my little kid is a mess and does love her football shorts.