Last fall, Anna announced kind of out of the blue that she wanted a basketball. We have a basketball hoop in our backyard that’s pretty much been unused since we’ve lived here. It surprised us because she hasn’t really expressed interest in any kind of sports (aside from her beloved equestrian events.) We saw that there was a girls basketball team available through the city that plays games January through March. It is divided up by age and didn’t seem to be super competitive. So we signed her up.
For me, it was one of those moments as a parent where I had to work really REALLY hard to make sure I wasn’t projecting my own feelings and experiences as a kid on to my own child. As a kid, I had no interest in any kind of organized sports at all. My folks dutifully signed me up for T-ball, but I was never any good at it. I was always worried that we wouldn’t win the game because I sucked at it. Seriously, these were the conversations I was having with myself at age eight? Wow. That explains a lot. As I grew up and went through junior high and high school, there was no fate worse than gym class. I was the master of getting out of gym class by having to go to the nurse (until the school nurse wised up and started asking me which class I was coming from – curses! Foiled again.) It probably would have helped if I had possessed even a scrap of athletic ability. But by the time I was 15, I’d had a decade of telling myself that I sucked at anything that required physical coordination. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than being on an athletic team.
Clearly, this mindset does not exist in my daughter. She really loves playing and going to the practices. Her first game is on Saturday and I can’t wait to go watch her. As those who know us might expect, she is the tallest girl on her team. That’s what you get for being just a hair over 5 feet tall at 10 years of age. I chalk most of this positive experience up to the coaches who are super supportive of the kids and are always giving them positive feedback. They were just telling Anna last night how much her ability to shoot the ball has improved.
It also goes to show that just because the parents may not have a whole lot of natural athletic prowess, it doesn’t mean the kid can’t. My dad always used to try to make me feel better by saying that I have fine-motor coordination – which is reflected in my ability to type faster than most people – and that you can’t have it all. It’s true. I remember college friends of mine helping me to gain at least passable softball abilities in anticipation of a pharmacy softball tournament. I was telling my dad about it back then and he cautioned me (subtly) that there will probably be people there to win and not just to play for fun. I was saved because the tournament, which was scheduled for the first weekend in May, was snowed out.
I’ve always said that it’s good I had a daughter because I’d make a shitty father to a son since I don’t throw the ball around or any other sporty activities. Leave it to my daughter to find her own athletic ability! If you know her, it makes total sense. Mostly, I’m glad that she has the confidence to seek out what she wants in life and go for it, even if, for now, it’s just shooting hoops.