I spent over three hours this morning in a gym watching kids play basketball. It made me think of my dad. Teacher. Coach. Man who can remember who shot what. Assists. Who’s good. Who needs to works on what. Made me remember him driving boys home. After practices. All the boys yelling… “hey Mr. Glenn”. Recognizing his car. All those years he wore the Adidas tennis shoes. To work everyday. And now they’re stylish. Too funny. I wish he could meet some of the boys I currently know. He’d give some of them nicknames. Even though you’re probably not supposed to do that anymore. You could back then. “Does your dad make you do pushups at home?” Kids would ask that and I would think what a ridiculous question. Of course not.
I thought about the years my kids played basketball. The fun afternoons watching them play. Good times. How serious kids take everything. Like it’s the SEC tournament final game. Or the NBA playoffs. They get mad at themselves. Mad at each other. Some of them really don’t care one way or the other. When my son tried out for the middle school team but found out he’d made honor band and I think realized a trajectory was set and sports would be fun but not the main thing. Music would be the main thing. From that point forward. My daughter. When another girl would grab the ball and she would grab the ball and hold on and I realized…that girl’s a fighter. She’s scrappy and tough and would probably never hit another human except maybe her brother but she’s strong willed and will not give up. And I was proud. And still am.
It’s odd to contemplate but life teaches so many lessons in the gym. Observe a while and you’ll note. Parents’ notions. Children can eat nachos and twenty minutes later run up and down a court without any digestive issues. How many people care. How many people will spend half a day inside an elementary school in order to give a child an opportunity. How very, very few go on to higher athletic pursuits even though. Nearly every player dreams, I’m guessing. Hopes. Aspirations. Encouragement. I think we all remember a coach. Maybe a certain game. A funny story. A moment when we made the final shot and felt like the hero. Or we never did and realized rather quickly we were good at something altogether different. The child who needs so much. The child who needs relatively little from anyone because he’s taken care of. As it should be. It’s all relative and sometimes minor and sometimes it means everything that day. That particular day.
I’m thankful for a dad who was always there and would still be, if needed. Thankful for a mom who cheered. Loudly because. Thankful there are people who fill the gaps when others simply cannot. Who drive kids home. Thankful to be influenced by someone who taught me it’s okay to go the extra mile, even if it’s sort of against the rules to go the extra mile. That what matters on Saturday morning is the kid. That what matters after the game is the child. That what matters at the end of the school day is the boy or girl. I don’t think my father ever said that to me in so many words. But looking back, it’s obvious. Thirty plus years equals obvious. The smell of a gym will always remind me of my father. Always. And it’s a good reminder. Kids playing basketball will always remind me of my two. My son and the outside shot. My daughter and the determination. Childhood. Memories. Reminders.