“Christy, can you help me with something?”
We were at third grade basketball practice.
Yes, basketball again. After years of not-so-terrific sport experiences, I thought getting pointers from a very sporty mom would make my remaining bleacher years better.
It was worth a shot, anyway.
Christy and I have known each other since pre-school T-ball. She was my wing-friend the night I decided to get Skin Tag Drunk (brave enough to snip them myself, not so gone I cut a vein) Anyway, it’s safe to say that we are good friends. I felt comfortable asking her for help.
“How can I be a better sports mom?”
It took her a few minutes to realize I wasn’t kidding. Maybe the notepad and pen in my hand did the trick, but she started giving me pointers while keeping her eye on the court.
“You have to be supportive, but tell them what they are doing wrong,” she began.
“You mean during practice?” I asked, confused.
“No,” she said flipping her short, strawberry-blonde hair when she shook her head, “you make mental notes.” She turned to face me. I think she had just realized the level of unsportyness she was dealing with. “Back up: do you give your son a pep talk on the ride over?”
“Not unless singing along to Ke$ha is a pep talk.”
“OK, you have to start with a pep talk. Set some goals. How many baskets is he going to hit? Make sure he knows to hustle, listen, give 100 percent.”
“How do you keep him from tuning you out?”
“You make it interactive,” she told me. “Ask him specific questions, make him answer.”
“So, no Ke$ha?”
“Maybe some Queen? A little ‘We Are the Champions?’”
“Champions? He hasn’tdone
anything yet!” She kept her eye on the court, muttering quietly as if her son could hear her. Maybe he did. He stopped messing around with another kid.
I asked her how her son was doing.
“He’s not listening and he’s not hustling,” she seemed a little annoyed.
“How’s Noah doing?” I follow up.
“I don’t know. You’re supposed to watch your own kid.” She laughed that laugh that only a friend can get away with.
She began a very animated running assessment of how the practice was going — compliments and critiques of players and coaches.
“You seem to know a lot about the game,” I start and she cut me off.
“You know, I suspect that there are other parents who think I’m hard on my kid, too tough.”
“So what do you say to them?”
She covered one hand with the other so only I saw the hand signal and whispered, “I’m getting my kid ready for the real world.”
We turned our attention to the court. She pointed out things that I was missing — basketball things, technical things, things her kid and mine might need to work on. But something was nagging at me.
“Christy, is it safe to say that our sideline style is vastly different?”
She laughed heartily, “Yes.”
“So do you think your method is better?”
Her answer warmed my heart and bonded us even more than the skin tag night did.
“No, not at all. I can’t judge another parent. We parent our kids in the way that works for us.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. I wanted to hug her,but instead I offered a gift.
“Christy, I’m going to give you the last word.”
She thought for a moment — but not a very long one — and said as she smiled victoriously, “Remember: you are either a winner, or a loser.”