The New Year has started, which means a new school semester and a new sports season. It is cold and wet outside, so we have taken our sports enthusiasm from the gridiron to the basketball court; a tough transition for a dedicated football mom like me!
That my knowledge of basketball wasn't nearly as deep as my understanding of football was driven home to me, so to speak, during the first week back to school when I picked up my son and four of his classmates after school.
The afternoon car pool is my favorite time of day. I love seeing the joy on the kids' faces as they pile into the minivan after school lets out, eagerly anticipating whatever after-school snack awaits them. As any mom knows, it's also a time when you can learn a lot about what's going on your kids' lives. In fact, it's downright amazing how much information you can pick up in just 15 minutes! All you have to do is keep quiet and drive the car. The intel just spills out: who got what grade, who likes whom, who won what game, what teacher is nice, or who got a detention. All the information that a mom of a pre-teen boy wants to know, but is really afraid to ask!
On Tuesday, I was ready. I had our car pool theme song cued up on the CD player. We would be rolling home to "Truck Yeah," by Tim McGraw. I was just anxious as the kids for the after-school snack, as I had skipped lunch. I was really hoping they would want to go to Jamba Juice.
I spotted the kids from a distance. All five of them together in a group, not in the traditional singles and pairs. Mercy. It seemed like they had all grown over the holiday break. I just hoped they would all still fit in the car. My broad smile was met with five frowns. "Oh no," I thought, "What could have happened today?"
"Hi guys! How was the day? Ready for our song?" I asked. I cued the music.
My son's answer set me back. "No, Mom. No music," he said. "We need to talk."
Oh no! This is bad. I put the hazard lights on, and motioned the cars behind us line to go around us. I was just too stunned to drive. I paused and asked, as calmly as I could, "Yes. What's up?" My question was met with lots of shuffles and downcast eyes. Finally, the group's spokesman - if a boy only turning thirteen in March can be called that - started the conversation. "It's about basketball."
Now, I was totally confused. Five hundred possible things had just run through my mind, from changing back from PB & J to turkey sandwiches to god knows what, but the subject of basketball had not crossed my mind. I gave them a quizzical look but managed to say, "OK. Continue please." (Oh, this is going to be good)
In bits and pieces, it all spilled out. The bottom line was that, I had not, in the view of the group, transitioned from football into basketball season graciously, if at all! The first game had been the past weekend. As always, I had been a cheering machine, clapping and letting my kid and his teammates know they were doing great.
The problem was that I was using the wrong lingo, using football terminology to cheer during a basketball game! It was so bad that, not only was I confusing the kids on both teams in the game I was watching, but school friends playing on an adjacent court who were listening had been confused as well.
Geeze! This was serious. Just to make sure I didn't make the same mistake again (after all, as any mom of a teenager knows, embarrassing him in front of his friends and classmates is a cardinal sin!), I asked for examples.
Football versus basketball
Here's a cheat sheet for football moms with a child playing basketball:
Interception = Steal
Pick Six = Steal for a basket
Fumble = Lost possession of the ball
Penalty = Foul
High Five = Fist Bump (don't blow it up)
I was humbled. But I had a great excuse, I thought. After all, I probably still in football mode, having just finished watching every single college bowl game that had been played over the last 2 ½ weeks and cheering for son in a 7-on-7 holiday football tournament. I guess I was just not tuned up for basketball.
I decided that the best thing I could do was not plead my case before the soon-to-be-teen judges, to set the right example, to show how I expected my son and his friends to respond when other adults had issues with their behavior (Besides, I was beaten and outnumbered: there were five of them and only one of me); so I ended up just smiling, and saying, "Thank you so much. I had no idea. I will do better next time."
My tactfulness really through them off their game. I think they were expecting me to try to explain away my apparent ignorance, but when I didn't, it was too much for the Gang of 5. Realizing that they had been just a tad harsh, they backed down and started apologizing. "We are really sorry, but we but had to tell you. We just want you to be a cool mom." I just nodded.
Problem solved, I quickly changed the subject. "Where to, boys? Jamba Juice or 7-11? My turn to buy!" I cued the music, turned off the hazard lights and off we went.
The lesson? Knowledge speaks. Wisdom listens!