Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Skillz. Or Lack Thereof.

A couple of months ago, Maddie came to us and said something that made a smile come to Justin's face and dread settle into my heart.

"I want to play basketball."

"Why dread?", you might be asking yourself.

Let me take you back to 5th and 6th grade. The 2 worst years of my life.

I went to a small school. And in 5th and 6th grade, you could sign up to play Pee-Wee basketball.

I didn't really want to play. I had already had years and years of being picked last for everything in P.E., and I was fully aware of how bad at sports I was.

There were less than 10 girls in my class. Only one other girl was as bad as I was. Joyce. She had the common sense to not even attempt the team. But, in my skewed mind, it was social suicide to not play. Because then, I would be grouped with her. The girl that had to walk around the gym while the others practiced.

I tended to miss practice. I knew that one of the consequences of not getting a test signed was not getting to practice. Believe me- I didn't get a lot of tests signed until I couldn't fake it any more. I had a lot of headaches that I was sure basketball practice would make worse. And looking back, I realise that it was probably the stress of practice that brought on the headaches in the first place.

And because I missed a lot of practices, my game didn't improve. I wasn't just bad. I was terrible.

The coach even talked about how bad I was to my sister. My sister. Every practice that I did attend felt like it was a lesson in humiliation.

My teammates' shoulders slumped every time I was put in the game. I was terrified to shoot the ball. What if I missed? Everyone will laugh. Please don't pass me the ball. Please don't foul me- I can't hit a free throw for anything. Take me out of the game, please. Please. Please. Joyce can't be that bad. Maybe I'll just quit this stupid game and we can become friends.

All of these memories flooded me when Maddie told me she wanted to play. And I pretended to be excited about it. After all, her dad was great at basketball- maybe she inherited that gene.

She's had a few practices and a scrimmage. She's not nearly as bad as I was. In fact, she's pretty good at defense.

But after the first scrimmage, she said some all too familiar words, "I'm not going to shoot the ball at all. I'm not good at it. I'll just guard everyone."


She's more like me than I thought.

I know she's only in first grade. But it terrifies me that she already has it in her mind that if she can't do something well, she shouldn't even try.

We're probably getting her a basketball goal for her birthday, so she can practice and gain more confidence in shooting.

And I'm praying that she finds a "Joyce" to be her friend if it turns out she's got my skillz. Or lack of.

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