Basketball Boy

February 8, 2014

My son is in 8th grade. Somehow, there was some crazy genetic mix up and I gave birth to an athlete. He can throw a football as easily as I spill coffee on my shirt. He beat us all at mini golf when he was eight. He can run faster than a greyhound, and oh my, my kid can play basketball.

I haven’t seen him play that much this year. I’ve been out sick with a chest cold that left me stranded on the sofa for weeks. Before that I was busy working three jobs, and since then, trying to keep those three jobs after being sick for weeks.

In other words, I’ve been walking around slightly hunched over, weighed heavy with the guilt of being the mom to the one kid without anyone in the bleachers to cheer him on. (Though if you know anything about 13 year old boys and organized sports, cheering from moms is not acceptable behavior. An occasional shout of either “Defense!” or “Nice play” is allowed as long as not specifically directed at offspring. Though I should probably check in because the rules are always changing.)

The season is coming to an end next week, so I made some adjustments. I raced thru work, enlisted another parent to drive my daughter to swim team, had a long conversation with my dog to explain that I really would take her for a doubly long walk tomorrow, and would try to do something about the temperature, and drove over to the Middle School. My gas tank was on E, but if I was going to rearrange my life to go to the game, I wanted to see the whole damn game.

I fall in love a little every time I watch Colin play ball. He races across the court so fast my heart quickens . He throws a pass to the guy that’s open without hesitation. He guards with a fierce scowl on his face, he steals the ball like it was meant for him all along. At one point he caught a pass, someone tripped him and he fell to the ground, ball clutched to his chest like it was the valuable thing in the world. On the court, my son is someone I don’t see at the breakfast table in the morning. Today I was so happy to sit on the sidelines watching this young man do something he loves so well.

At half time, his team filed out of the court for a meeting in the locker room. I stood outside the door so I could say hello as they left. As he opened the door, he saw me. His eyes turned to steel, he mouthed the words “not now-” he walked by me. He took a drink and followed the rest of the team without looking back.

This son of mine I had been swooning over, swooning over! had cut me to the quick. I thought of leaving the game, going out for coffee, heading home to hug my daughter. I just didn’t want to be there anymore.

The next half, I buried my head in my smart phone. I checked Facebook updates.I sent silly texts to a friend, who probably wondered why I was sending her silly texts because I am not a texting kind of woman. I downloaded 10 wonderful recipes for the slow cooker, then deleted them because I don’t want to make cake in a slow cooker, and my spaghetti sauce is pretty damn amazing. I didn’t watch the game. I didn’t try to catch his eye. I didn’t see him make the three point shot while being guarded by some 6 foot 2 behemoth who should have been in college.

The game finally ended. I waited for him in the car, which I did not pull around to meet him, even though he was wearing shorts and we are in the middle of the coldest winter in the history of the world. He walked to car, all swagger and sweat, and hopped in, smiling. He looked at me. He stopped smiling.

“What’s the matter?”

I’m not going to repeat what I said. A lot was the matter, or at that moment, a lot felt like the matter. And me being me, I had to share with him each and everything; words spilled out my mouth quicker and hotter than all of the tears that I’d held back while reading Facebook posts about kittens and restaurants and slow cooker cakes.

And he listened. And he sighed. And he promised it wouldn’t ever happen again. And Colin said “Mom, I’m sorry… Did you see the time that last basket?” And he smiled.

I told him I had.

We negotiated a deal for future games- he is required to say “Hi, Mom” when he is within six feet of me. And I am allowed to respond “Nice job, Col.”

I can live with that.

If he decides at anytime that he can’t, he’s going to have find another way home.

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