I woke up this morning realizing I’d been dreaming about basketball.
Is that normal?? I’ve heard that if you start to dream in another language, it means that you have become fluent in it. I wouldn’t say I’m fluent in basketball yet (I still have no idea what a “three second violation is” is) but I’m definitely in a daily-immersion program, so I guess I’ll learn it by osmosis. Sometimes I wonder, how did this happen to me?; how did I get here – spending my days driving sweaty boys and their bag of balls around to games and practices? Not exactly what I had in mind years ago in my hopeful youth when when I imagined myself one day surrounded by an entourage of strapping young dudes.
I mean, c’mon, really? I was that kid afterall, the one that was the last to be picked for the kickball team during P.E. in middle school. I wanted to be last because I was too busy admiring my nailpolish or chatting with my friends to bother with sports. P.E was a necessary evil and as soon as I could choose another elective I did. So I suppose it’s one of those cosmic karmic lessons that I ended up giving birth to 3 boys who all seem to possess inexplicable Jock-DNA.
At thirteen, seven, and four they eat sleep and talk (non-stop) about their favorite passion in life – basketball. People say “When in Rome” and “If you can’t beat them, join them” and all that jazz, but tell that to the mom who has scratched paint on her doors from the indoor-hoop, and is listening to the dribble down the hallway; the ball as constant as a tap drip-drip-dripping.
Gotta go. There is practice this afternoon and I’ve got lots to do before then. I’m developing a new mantra, “basketball ate my weekend”.
Mostly I love Mondays. It’s a “dark” day (do they call it that in sports or am I just revealing my inner performance-geek?). No practice, no game. Just straight home after school. The thing about Mondays is that my seventh grader tries to get ALL his homework done for the rest of the week so that he won’t get behind, since games and practices take up most of his after-school time. I admire his tenacity even if it means that he is up until 10 p.m. finishing his schoolwork . My mind does boggle when I think about all the children in America who are regularly double and triple booked with sports activities and extra-curricular activities, and their parents who are the chauffeurs, the cooks and time-managers that make it all happen. How do those families do it? I wonder aloud as I serve cereal for dinner, at least three times a week.
Game day. It’s a busy day for Basketball Mom and there is no rest for the weary as I come home from my morning working with preschoolers, spend an hour packing snacks for my little kids (who are bound to get bored and hungry sitting through an hour and half of games) and then hustle off to the school to pick up players and carpool them to wherever the game is being held.
All our games are played at other middle schools in the district – the schools with the gyms and bleachers and mascots and cheerleaders. I can’t help but think of the Bad News Bear’s misfit players when our funky little teams from the Waldorf school show up with their pink hair, tie-dyed socks and violin cases. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it makes it that much sweeter when our boys or girls walk away with a win, especially when the other school has smugly under-estimated them. But sadly they have seen some crushing defeats too, tears and all.
I never cease to be surprised by the money and resources that some schools throw into youth sports. One team our boys played arrived in head to toe matching gear, not just uniforms but all the way down to the warm-up clothes before the game. And everyone was in identical Air Jordon sneakers, including the coach – who made the Sue Sylvester character from Glee look like a cream puff There was a player who was taller than most of the dads, and if he was a middle school-er then I’ll eat my hat. (Can we get some genetic analysis over here??) This particular team is number 1 in the league and runs things kind of like a boot-camp for the next generation of professional players. “I think they go recruiting at elementary schools” joked my husband as the players jogged into the gym in all their glory.
Needless to say, it was a blow out.
Hump Day in the basketball week, and it’s back-to-back practices today.
“Whhaaaattt”, you say?
It’s true and here’s where the fun really starts. Just so you know, in all honesty I brought this upon myself by signing two of my boys up for a new season of basketball at the YMCA before the Griffins season at school was over. It goes a little bit against my better judgement but it only overlaps for a few weeks right? Just a temporary torture.
On Wednesdays I pick up my kids after school and then fill my up my van up with any other players, first come first serve, who need a ride. Then we drive across town to our sister school, the Waldorf high school, which has a newer gym facility and real court for our teams to practice on. And when I say “across town” I mean freeway, traffic, and all that good stuff. Man, sometimes it is a long, slow drive out there. Did I mention that I have to start cooking at 6 in the morning on these days in order to have enough snacks to sustain my hungry kids throughout this routine until we finally get home in the evening? And if I don’t have dinner ready-made in the crock-pot today then forget about it…it’s cereal for supper again. So anyway, after an hour and half of Griffins practice it’s time to turn around and head bravely back into rush hour traffic, stopping at home only for a quick change out of sweaty shorts before driving over to the Y for practice #2. Not very a very “waldorf” schedule I’m afraid.
If it wasn’t true, I couldn’t make this diary of madness up.
Game day for the Griffins again. Pack more snacks, carpool more kids. The girls play first on Thursdays so my little kids and I stay busy in the bleachers, watching the game, snacking and yakking; the members of the boys team do their homework and hoot and holler for their sister-team. We moms clap and knit and gossip. I did the math and realized that I’ve clocked around 1120 minutes sitting in bleachers watching games this season. If my math is right that’s almost 19 hours, and if the thought of that exhausts you then you kind of get where I am coming from these days.
But don’t let me paint too bleak a picture, a lot of sweetness and bonding and camaraderie happens in those bleachers and it’s been really fun to be a part of. And not having daughters myself I especially like getting to know our players from the girls team. Like the boys – they are a smart, funny and kind bunch of kids and I love that they retain their feminine qualities while still being solid players in the court. Just the other day one of our players, a sweet social butterfly, was dribbling past her opponent when she chimed up “I like your headband” before driving down court and putting up a basket and putting up a shot. Nice!
No games or practice for the Griffins but its still basketball central around here. Thanks to a generous friend who is also a BB mom as well as a devoted fan of the Sacramento Kings our family sometimes gets tickets to see Sac town’s very own NBA team play, and tonight is one of those nights. I’ve been to a Kings game once and I had a good time but this is a real deal father/son bonding activity; they love to go together and I like to see them go. I have developed a rather odd affection for the extensive play-by-play I get from them when they come home after a game all hyped up on free Kings swag and $6 hot dogs. Besides, whenever I watch pro basketball games I irritate my sons and husband due to the fact I pick the players I root for based on their looks, not their stats.
“Mom, he’s a ball hog” my son said disgustedly as I admired one particularly handsome power-forward. My response of “yeah… but he’s a cutie!” mystified him to no end and further illustrated the inexplicably weird differences between boys and girls.
Since the YMCA league has started we now have games on Saturdays as well. Although my boys practice on the same day/time during the week, their games are spread throughout the day on Saturday, with the younger one usually playing around 11 or 12 and the older one not until later around 4 or 5. And yes, that is a lot of driving back and forth and not much else getting done in between.
I need to say that I really like watching the games of my first grader’s team. They are all beginners and the pace of the game is just my speed. I can actually understand what is happening. I’m admitting that the way they use colored wristbands to teach the kids who they should be guarding really helps me as a spectator too. I think I am finally understanding this game. My older son, watching his brother make a move to the basket during his game said “see, I told you, get the rebound in the paint and put it back up…” and I actually got what he meant!! The excitement and enthusiasm of the little players is contagious, and so what if they look like keystone cops out there and they forget to dribble and they shoot into the other team’s basket.
They are having fun and learning to love to play a game and that is absolutely what is most important.