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Practice Makes Peace

It’s amazing how such a little thing can pull you out of a funk, and I’ve been in a deep one for weeks.

The recent weeks have been flooded with flu’s and funerals and pneumonia, and at a few points I was ready to stop treading water and just sink to the bottom of the black cold pond of life, letting the ice close over if only to get a little quality sleep (I’d given up on the reset button on Friday).  I was still feeling funky Saturday morning as we raced to make it to Thing2’s (our six-year-old son) basketball practice.

Neither the Big Guy nor I had thought to set the alarm Friday night, and when I opened my eyes and looked at the clock, I realized we had 21 minutes to get everyone up, dressed, and chauffeured, to a school 20 minutes away.  I raced to the kids’ room yelling, “Up! up! up!,” half-aware that my twelve-year-old son, Thing1, was already up and locked in a video game (as I threw clothes at both of the kids he calmly explained that he also doesn’t pay attention to clocks on weekends).  Surprisingly the wild goose chase that constituted the rest of our getting ready and on the road did nothing to penetrate my gloom.  But when we walked into the caferia-turned-gym of the elementary school, the ice over my head began to melt a bit.

We live near Arlington, VT.  Their school and the elementary school Thing2 attends in the next town is so small that they have to combine with each other to get the minimum four players needed to form a team.  The kids are all in first and second grad, and, with no million dollar sponsorships on the line, it’s often a toss-up as to whether we’ll arrive at a Saturday game or just an extra practice.  Five minutes after we arrived, we stopped wondering if the other team might just be late, and relaxed as we realized our panic had been completely unnecessary.  Today was a practice.  We grabbed a few folding chairs and found a safe spot at the edge of the cafeteria to wait and watch.

Like most parents, my butt already has a permanent flat impression from years of waring the bleachers at ballparks and gymnasiums, and I am not proud of the fact that part of my routine includes indulging in a little smart phone therapy (I know, I know, I should be committing every play and bounce to memory for the mental scrapbook).   But today, as the coach drafted another parent and a few players’ siblings to participate, something made me put away my phone and pull out my pen.

Thing2’s team is a bit rag-tag in style as well as size.  None of the kids have fancy sneakers, and several play in jeans or whatever the weather dictates.  The kids are competitive but never cutthroat. They’ll share the ball as often as they steal it.  While the coach maintains structure, he’s enthusiastic about the game, not militant about discipline.  When his enthusiasm infected Thing2 again this overcast Saturday morning, SuperDude, Thing2’s evolving, multi-talented and perpetually joyful alter-ego, exploded onto the court and, with a twirl and a leap and a dancing ‘dunk’, yanked me through the hole in the ice, out of my funk and back into life.

Watching him twirl and run, stopping occasionally to climb the makeshift rock wall with a teammate, reminded me once again just how good the rag-tag chaos we call life is.  It reminded me how even the things that fomented my funk are mostly indicative of our blessings rather than any host of misfortunes.  And, as they wrap a tied practice game of two on six (one coach + one parent vs. four players + two sib’s), I am amazed again at how life can breathe itself into you when you least expect it.  And maybe that’s the time you need it most.