Basket Bawl

The waiting was killing my son. Would he or wouldn’t he make the fourth grade travel basketball team? After two days of tryouts the chosen players were to be posted at 7 p.m. Sunday night. I’d never seen him so nervous. He loves basketball, but travel basketball will have his dad and I jumping through hoops to get him to every game. (Don’t ever tell him I wouldn’t have minded if he hadn’t made the cut.) This was his first real tryout. It would also be his first real disappointment if he didn’t make the team. Cue the teaching moment. We spent most of the day discussing how he thought he did and how much he wanted to make it. I kept steering him toward the possibility of not making it and trying to get him to understand that it would be ok. We talked through the worst-case scenario. What if all his friends made the team and he didn’t? He thought about how that would make him feel, what he would say at school the next day, and how he would play the season on an in-house team. He seemed at peace with this until 7 p.m. rolled around.

He kept refreshing the website and could barely sit still. I had a sinking feeling all my teachable moments that day were for naught. Finally the names were posted. He made it. Then he wept. I had never seen him like that—he was a puddle. It was almost too intense for a nine-year-old and I felt a little guilty putting him through it. Still, I was relieved and thrilled for him. Yes, despite the extra miles on my car and impact on my schedule, I was excited for him.

As we scanned the list again, we noticed his very good friend did not make it. We all felt bad. We discussed what my son would say to his friend the next day at school. It’s hard for a nine-year-old to quell his excitement and empathize with a friend, but my little guy was going to try. The whole experience was a major learning experience for all my kids, and, as it turns out, for others too. The next day after school I asked how is friend reacted. My son said his friend congratulated him and said he was going to play in-house basketball and practice really hard so he could make the travel team next year. Now it was my time to cry. Well done! I can only hope my son would have reacted with that kind of maturity and grace. I guess all the emotion of the weekend was worth it for everyone.

I’m thrilled for my son, proud of his friend, and now, may the basketball carpools begin.

This week I wish you intense, teachable moments that can be learned vicariously.