Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Basketball pains of the younger brother

This winter, we have dipped our toe into organized sports.  It is basketball season, and the recreation center at our neighborhood school hosts youth basketball every Tuesday night.  E-Bear and G-Bear are both old enough to participate this year, so we decided to give it a try.   Basketball is open to five and six year olds, lasts for forty-five minutes, and ostensibly includes a brief practice/instructional time followed by a scrimmage against the (only) other team.  It is generous to call this an organized sport, which is precisely why it is perfect for us right now.

It is ironic that of our children, Buddy Bear is currently the most inclined towards sports.  Show the kid a ball, and he wants to kick it, throw it, hit it with a bat, or tuck it under his arm and run headlong into the couch.

So, it was no surprise that on our first night of basketball, Buddy Bear piled into the minivan with a ball in his arms.  When we arrived early to registration for G-Bear and E-Bear, Buddy Bear introduced himself to the coach, rummaged through the stack of t-shirts for one that was his size, and ran onto the court with his ball under his arm, ready to practice his skills.  When the coach called the participants to sit in a circle, Buddy Bear plopped right down too, and he proceeded to howl as I carried him out of the circle over to the spectator bleachers.  I could barely contain Buddy Bear on the bench during the forty-five minute practice.  I achieved only mild success by encouraging him to "watch and listen to coach" so he would "learn the basketball rules."  He skeptically passed the ball to me once or twice before realizing it wasn't getting him any closer to playing on the court.

Today is another Tuesday, and I'll be honest, I don't know what to do for Buddy Bear.  I want the basketball experience, however disorganized and laid-back, to be special for G-Bear and E-Bear.  But, I don't want to disappoint Buddy Bear so much.  It is hard to see the sporting sparkle in his eyes turn to disappointment when he realizes he can't play with the older kids.  I was the oldest in my family, so I never experienced the feeling of being the younger sibling unable to play, and my heart breaks to see Buddy Bear's sadness.  Surely, there is a way to ease his frustration and disappointment.  For now, I'll try the following:
  ~Pull out a extra t-shirt for him to wear as his "basketball shirt" 
when G-Bear and E-Bear get dressed.
 ~Drive our crew to the gym early so that Buddy Bear can run around
 for a bit before the practice really starts.
~Try to set better expectations by talking during the day about "sitting and listening to coach on the bleachers so that we can learn the game and play on the team next year."

Special prayers for Buddy Bear are in order.  I'll take all the suggestions I can get!  

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