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Saturday, January 19, 2008

3rd Grade Boy's Basketball

Ah, the first game of the first basketball season, of the beginning of an era, maybe.

Let me explain: Our Boy comes from an amazing basketball gene pool. It's recessive, I think. My husband is 6'6", but he grew too fast in high school, and his limbs weren't able to keep up with himself at the right time for basketball greatness. But his dad was a fantastic, all-star player in high school, at 6'5", who was written up in the newspapers for his amazing athletic feats regularly.

I'm only 5'6" and a mediocre athlete, as I've mentioned. I'm fairly coordinated, and will try anything, but I'm far from star quality. I'm more middle earth, I think. But my dad was a star athlete, too, measuring in at about 6'3" in high school. He was written up in his hometown newspaper too, for several sports. My grandma saved all the front page sports pictures of him doing layups in his fabulous black Chuck Taylor Converse tennis shoes and making touchdowns with those funky leather footballs from the 1950's.

So, we think the basketball gene may have skipped a generation, and maybe our Boy, who is tall and strong and coordinated, might enjoy it.

He could run down hills when he was 15 months old without falling. He could throw things into garbage cans without missing when he was 3. We don't pressure him (this is the first year he's expressed interest in playing a sport despite my nagging "are you sure you don't want to try soccer? Or T-ball? Or..anything?") but we can see that he clearly is a bit more athletic than we are. Just a bit.

The Boy is 8, and he played his first basketball game today. He was quite worried all week, since he's never played a real game on a real team, and he wasn't sure if he was good enough yet. We explained over and over that this was the first game for all the other boys too, and they were all in the same boat. That didn't help.

Still, he was excited this morning and had his uniform on several hours in advance. We got there on time, a half an hour before tip off, so the team could warm up and practice. We all hiked up to the top of the bleachers for a bird's eye view.

The big sisters were in charge of the video camera. I put myself in charge of not micro-managing all the little toddlers and assorted little children who were climbing up and down the bleachers.

This is tricky for me. I have to concentrate on being neutral with cute kids. I can't help but smile at them, but I can't offer too much encouragement to them, lest they try hard to impress me, and freak me out with toddely threats of falling smack down on their cute little faces. I speak from experience.

My husband promptly pulled out his "Java Pro" programming book. I glared.

"We've got a half an hour before the game starts!" he said. He's got a bug in his code, I think. He can't help it. When he's stuck on code that won't work, he just can't help but figure it out. He assured me he'd put the book away when the game started. He did.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much. At least he wasn't down on the floor "dad-coaching"his boy like some of the other dads. "Dad-coaching" is my nice way of describing the dads who apparently don't think their child's real coach is doing enough to instill the reality of the athletic situation to their kid. Even though the real coach is out there on the floor running drills and giving high-fives and little shouts of direction to his players, the dad-coaches think their kid needs extra coaching, from them, to really succeed.

My husband is not a dad-coach, he's more of an explainer. If a child needs help figuring out how to do something, my husband will explain, usually in a quiet, private moment.

When The Boy was putting together a very complicated roller coaster out of a million plastic connector thingys, my husband asked the Boy if he needed any help. The Boy said "Let me try it on my own first, and if I get stuck, I'll come ask you for help."

This is how they do things, these two. I think it is good trainning for figuring bugs in code, probably. But I wouldn't know. I ask for help at the first sign of trouble. I don't want to waste a bunch of time figuring something out if someone else can help me.

I'm more of an encourager with my kids, I think. I'll say "Good job!" and "Tell me about this wonderful picture!" and "I'm so proud of how you passed the ball to the guy who made the basket!" I learned all these little phrases in my Adolescent Psychology class in college.

My kids see through the hype, of course. They say "thanks for trying to make me feel better, mom, but I totally screwed up, and we both know it...I was trying to draw a house on a mountain, can't you tell?" Whatever. At least I try.

So anyway, the game went well. I was quite impressed that our coach managed to help them figure out how the game actually works after only three practices. They definitely got the general idea, and the high school boys who reff-ed the game did a great job. They only called traveling when a kid went 10 or 12 steps without dribbling...just to remind them they needed to, not to embarrass them. They did a nice job of keeping the game flowing.

Thank goodness they don't keep score in 3rd grade basketball. I know some people think it's stupid not too. But I swear that 90% of those kids think their team won. And some nice parents brought Snicker's bars for after the game. Those boys were flying high, I tell you.

Yum. I haven't had a Snicker's bar for about five years, I think. I'm going to have to get one of those things.

Of course our team won. I'm sure of it, even though I didn't keep score. My boy was on the team, after all, and he played great defense and made great passes, so of course they won.

I wish I could get him to wear some black Chuck Taylors. But his Nike high-tops from Fred Meyer are so cool, he has to wear them instead. Oh well, they'll look good in the newspaper...


Words My Own said...

It's so exciting when they start playing sports! How fun for you! Glad it's basketball, I get tired just watching a soccer game. All that damn running...

Jen said...

So glad that everyone had a good time! :)

Anonymous said...

Love your post, and actually I am one of those coaches. I fear the parents, and we have not had our first game yet. Love reading from your point of view though.