Thursday, January 19, 2012

5 basketballs and guts

Yesterday I witnessed a marvel.  Really.  It wasn't so much the athletic feat that was marvelous but the guts.  As with many afternoons at our house, kids were inside and outside doing any manner of things.  We had actually had a 'homework check' and everyone was completely finished with all assignments - the big kids and the little kids.  That meant everyone was free to pursue the school day fun of their dreams (or the best they could come up with using the yard and the innards of the garage).  There was a strange, newly invented game on the side of the house that involved colored circles from a hop-scotch set and two lines of kids.  Emma seemed to be in charge of that and the small folks gathered 'round her seemed content with the set-up.  A few of the boys opted out of the two-lined circle game and headed to the basketball goal in the street.

Sometimes the basketball games are organized, using one ball for a modified 'two on two' or rousing game of 'H-O-R-S-E'.  Yesterday, though, each boy had his own basketball.  (You will notice that I will NOT be using the word 'ball' at any time in this post - I will consistently write out 'basketball' even though you all will know what kind of earth-shaped object I'm speaking of.  If you are the parent of a boy or know the parent of a boy, you will know why.  I have been trained never to say or write b-a-l-l, unless there is time for an hour long laughing session.  And the plural of the word is even better!  Saying those words, and others like them, is akin to giving a boy the best birthday present of his life and hearing the funniest joke ever, EVERY TIME.  I mean knee-slapping funny every time.  It's a strange phenomenon.  So, I will always identify spheres used for games and sports by their entire name.)  The guys were enjoying random shots with no particular rules.  Everyone was happy.  (I forgot to mention that there were 'pizza rolls' in the oven, which also brings about a joy not found naturally in children .  If you ever find yourself with a house full of children and no snack options, run to Dollar General.  You can purchase large bottles of "Lemon-Lime Flavored Soda" for 88 cents, they always have 'pizza rolls' and you can get in and out in a flash.  The children will be so excited about the 'pizza rolls' and the friends and the fact that you are buying soda in the middle of the week that they will not mind that their "Sprite" is "Clover Valley Lemon-Lime Flavored Soda.")  So, to recap, the boys were happy, and I know that I've just written a paragraph with most of the sentences in parentheses.  It seemed the right thing to do.

In the kitchen, hovering over the preparation of the healthy snacks, I was surprised by the door flying open with four screaming boys - "You've got to come see, you've got to come see and bring your camera!"  I ran for the camera and followed them out the door, delighted that I wasn't running out to break up a fight or wipe up blood from a collision.  "There," they said, as they all four pointed up at the goal.  It took me a minute to realize what the excitement was all about.  There were three basketballs stuck together in the net, as if all three of them had to make a basket at the same time.  I cheered, I clapped, I screamed for the others, and I took a couple of shots.  They guys were delighted and explained how it had happened.  Two of them had taken shots at the same time and both made the basket!  Then a third lightly tossed in another shot that landed atop the other two.  I realized from the volume of the voices that it was truly a miracle.
We had fun working to get the basketballs out and then I wandered back to the house, hollering something about them calling me when they got four basketballs in the basket.  "Okay," they simultaneously yelled.

I got back to the important work of vittles preparation for the hungry and forgot about the superb athleticism I had just witnessed.  Approximately 180 seconds went by and again the door flew open - they had four basketballs in the net!  Now we were in the big leagues!  Now we had the side yard athletes, too, and all of us marveled at the net.  We stared up into that beautiful, bright winter sun and proudly gazed at those basketballs all stuffed in the hoop.  It was impressive.  At this point, it was hard for the afternoon to improve.

But . . . alas, it did.  After we all squealed with delight and helped them to work the four basketballs out of the net, the boys explained that they were "going for five."  "All right, dudes, go for it," I said, heading back inside.  And, bless Pat and my two fifteen packs of 'pizza rolls', they did it!  They worked together to configure a way to get five basketballs in one net at one time.  I present the picture here for proof and for your viewing pleasure.  It really was a groovy day.

I've thought a lot about those boys and their basketballs and their determination and their guts.  I've thought a lot about how much I continue to learn from my kids.  I've thought a lot about how I might have confronted the same dare.  I'm afraid I probably would have laughed it off and said, "I can't do that."  I probably wouldn't have considered just trying it and I probably wouldn't have had the guts to just go for it, not worrying what the onlookers thought.  I would have missed the fun, the excitement and the miracle.  I imagine that most of my peers would react in the same way.  I wonder how many things we miss when we don't have the guts to try something, even if it's a crazy dream.  I wonder.

Since beginning this blog, I've had many folks tell me that they wanted to write a comment, but they were afraid they might say the wrong thing or say something silly or something that others might not agree with.  I understand that - I do.  I have the same fears most days when I put this little white Mac in my lap and start typing.  It's gutsy to put ourselves out there.  It takes guts to say or write or throw a basketball without regard for others' judgements.  It's easy for me to tell my friends to go ahead and comment or say what they'd like - it's no big deal.  But I know, and you know, that it's harder done than said.

Kids have a lot of guts, huh?  They have a spirit that tells them to go for it.  They don't have all of the experiences and fears and feelings that we have bagged up to tell them what might not work.  To children it's fine that it might not work.  It's fun trying.  It's fun going for it.  I admire that.  I admire their guts.

I pray my children and their friends will hold onto that.  I'm remembering all of the times that I've 'gone for it' - remembering what I learned or what I saw or what I did or how funny it was when it just didn't work.  I think yesterday was a good lesson for me,  that net full of five basketballs and those scruffy proud faces below it.

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