I get out of bed and begin the Saturday morning routine. I pull on my maroon and gold and tie my tennis shoes. I start the coffee pot and rouse the troops. Quickly the kitchen fills with activity as kids grab breakfast and hurriedly making cold lunches, grabbing snacks and packing an activity bag for the youngest Love Bugs. We double check schedules and ensure we all know the plan for the day.
We depart, miraculously on time, and head to our destination. We arrive with our brood and all of our bags. With a hot cup of coffee in hand, we enter our home for the next few hours (and in some cases, the day). I can smell the freshly polished floors. I hear the squeak of shoes, the echo of balls being dribbled and the occasional "swoosh" of the net. This environment awakens a passion within me and I am now wide awake and excited for the day ahead.
We have 3 kids on 3 different teams with 3 different schedules. We have had to rely on family and friends to assist us with this season. Monkey and I divide our time the best we can among the 3. This is basketball and this is our life for 4 months.
I can honestly say, that just a few short years ago, if you would have described this scenario to me and said this would be my life, I would have scoffed and said, "no way." Monkey and I knew families who did this and we thought it was ridiculous. We even agreed that our kids would not participate in organized athletics at least until 7th grade. Those parents who ran their kids all over creation were, for lack of a better word(s), nuts. Crazy. Loco.
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when we considered allowing our children to participate in organized sports. I cannot tell you the exact time when Monkey and I said, "okay, let's sign them up." What I do know, is that it was not an easy nor quick decision for us, nor has this decision come free from guilt.
How I Sleep At Night
Disclosure: I am fully aware that the following is a list of justifications.
1. Mass is our first and foremost priority of the week. If anything conflicts with Mass attendance, then IT will lose out. We will never choose basketball (or any other activity for that matter) over our faith.
2. Family trumps all extra-curricular activities. If we have a family commitment; a birthday party, a special dinner, etc., we will choose the family activity. Hands down. The kids missed a handful of practices this past season due to family gatherings.
3. School trumps all extra-curricular activities. If homework is not completed, there is no practice or games. If grades begin to fall, there will be no basketball (kinda catchy and a little corny, but very effective).
4. Music trumps basketball. We have kids who play piano, guitar, sax, and trumpet. Lessons, concerts and recitals take precedent. We did some rearranging of lesson schedules to permit basketball practice, but if that was not an option, then basketball would have been reconsidered. Music is a life-long gift.
5. Since there are some sacrifices involved for the entire family in allowing a few to play basketball, those few had to make some sacrifices as well; for example, giving in to the little Love Bugs in any number of situations (choosing games to play, giving them control of the remote, reading to them and helping them with their homework, etc.).
6. Our winters in Minnesota are long and cold. We are not outdoor winter enthusiasts. Basketball gave the kids an outlet for their energy and an opportunity to exercise.
7. The kids love to play basketball.
Even with our priorities intact, there were times when I felt guilty for doing something I was convinced we would never do. I would even ask Monkey Toes the question, "are we ruining our kids?," to which he would jovially respond, "I don't think we can mess them up anymore than they already are."
So here's my confession.
I love this game. I have loved it from the earliest of times when my parents would drag me to the gym to watch my older sisters practice and play. I loved it when my Dad would take me out to the driveway and feed me balls and then would show me some of his "moves", in particular his hook shot. I loved that I always had at least one fan in the crowd cheering me on (usually my Mom and Dad and least one of my sisters - they never missed a game my senior year in high school). I loved playing and being a part of a team; contributing to something greater than myself. I love the lessons I learned at home, which were reinforced on the court; commitment, discipline, hard work, good sportsmanship, and good character. I love that I can share these same qualities with my own children.
We have turned into the parents we swore we would never become. We are a basketball family.
“Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball” – Phil Jackson