Long Story Short: Parenting and basketballs

I bought my eight-year-old a basketball today.
It’s a replica of the first basketball I ever owned. You’d know the type if you saw it. It’s red, white and blue striped.
The fact that she might want a basketball struck me just this week – and I can’t explain the joy the realization brought.
Parenting is a funny thing.
There’s a strange moment that comes when a mother realizes that she and her child are two separate beings. I remember gently offering Greer, my older daughter food when she was a baby. I would mindlessly go through the motions of chewing the food for her. Catching myself chewing invisible food was my first moment of grasping that she and I were two different people.
Time passed.
She grew.
She likes to draw maps like me. She likes to laugh at jokes the same way her daddy does. She loves theater and many things. Recently, she’s taken up horseback riding, but beyond that, the child does not do sports. I encourage her, and she’s still open to trying things, but she’s just not into sports.
Having grown up in a home where sports ruled, realizing that my daughter was not going to be an athlete did not come without some sadness. Sports were good to and for me. I wanted that for her. (Yes, there may come a day when she finds another sport she loves and wants to practice, but for now we’ve decided to focus on other strengths.)
With that realization, I, inadvertently, stopped the whole sports bug at our house. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t consider that my eight-year-old daughter might be different — seems like such an obvious parenting blunder. But it’s what I did. I’ll do what I can to correct it.
I realized the error of my ways while visiting cousins this week. Piper, our eight-year-old, started playing basketball with them. Much to my surprise and instant delight, she enjoyed it.
Today, we bought a basketball.
She named it Lily.
As I type, she’s dribbling beside me. The thought-bubble rising above my head, says, “She could be a natural-born point guard.”
As silly as this may seem to those who’ve never known the bliss dribbling a basketball can bring, I’m bouncing off the walls with glee.
To be sure, I’ve been blessed to know loads of joy – both in childhood and as an adult. I’ve known more than my share – joy that’s come in many forms and through many people. Yet looking back, I can’t help noting that some of the most fun I’ve ever had, some of the deepest joy I’ve ever known and some of the strongest relationships I ever developed happened on or around a basketball court. (Some sorrows too, but those seem to fade with the years.)
If tonight is the last night she ever dribbles, I’ll be OK. I’ve known parents who lived vicariously through their children’s activities and pushed too hard to play longer and harder than was wise. I won’t do that.
But…should that child continue to play basketball, I’ll take my place in the bleachers with a broad smile.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *