Honestly, I didn’t think that I would be spending my Saturday like this, watching five-years-olds run up and down the court at the YMCA attempting to play Basketball, or something akin to it anyway. Harry was a last minute roster replacement and as long as he assumed the name “Lamar” for the next 5 weeks, we didn’t have to pay the fee. Harry needed the introduction to the sport, I needed to get out on Saturday’s, and my husband needed a Valium, apparently.
“I should have played ball with him a few times first” Kent whispered feircely.
This is the most baffling statement of that entire year, which is saying something considering that was the year I began “Word” study and realized that “jiggy” had made it into Webster’s dictionary. Here we were, both watching the same game-like commotion, and having two completely different experiences.
“There will be plenty of time to do that” I assured him. It did nothing to ease his anxiety. He was mentally pacing up and down that court and I could read it all over his face.
I mean, seriously, were we watching the same thing? The kids weren’t allowed to defend at that age because, let’s be honest, there would have been more tears than baskets and we’d never get through a game. Therefore, defense consisted of the boys lining up under the basket putting their hands in the air and bouncing them like they were “raising the roof”. The offense just tried to get the ball down there and not trip themselves or someone else. It was adorable and beautiful to watch the effort. I was in heaven. I wondered what could possibly be the cause of Kent’s internal turmoil.
I’ve seen pacing before, both in myself and others. My friend Mickey, paces back and forth in the morning while coach explains the WOD. He looks like a lion in a cage when he does. I have personally paced in fidgety nervousness on the regular. While in labor, my midwife just watched me pace relentlessly around the block. I get it. Until this moment though, I’d never seen my husband nervously pace inside that beautiful head of his on behalf of his kid. Over a basketball game. Of a five year old. For the love.
Abruptly, my mind recalled a night not long before when I felt equally as anxious over this kid. About a month before, Harry had the croup. All of my attempts to open up his airways had failed miserably. The steam shower/outside combo, the humidifier, holding him upright all night long in the rocking chair...none of it was working. I paced our property holding him in a blanket reminding him to take slow, deep breaths. My pediatrician told me that with croup I was in for a couple bad nights and not to worry. Around 10:00 p.m. “bad” was in the rearview mirror. Around midnight, I raced passed “worry” and now I was just scared. My child wasn’t breathing well. His lips were turning blue and his fever wasn’t breaking. I couldn’t breath for him. Dear God, just let me breath for him. At 1:00 a.m. I put him in the car and drove to the hospital. I didn’t care that we didn’t have medical insurance. The cool night air from the rolled down windows kept him breathing and awake. I got to the children’s hospital, parked the car and carried him inside. “He’s not breathing very well” I stammered with tears running down my face. They took him immediately from me and started running all the tests. I spent the night holding Harry in the bed while they gave him steroids and oxygen. I was impatient with nervous energy, the toe-tapping/ pacing up and down the halls variety. That wasn’t what Harry needed though. For now, Harry need me to be still, calm, collected and confident and smile if possible. I felt none of those things but I’d do anything for my son, including pretend.
This vivid memory gave me a little more grace for Kent’s shocking reaction that day. I’ve been crazy with anxiety over the kids too. I’ve just had more practice holding still with it.
“It’s going to be okay” I squeezed his hand. “Look how cute and healthy they all are.”
Kent was able to soften into the moment which I am grateful for because I didn’t want him to miss it. Later Kent explained why he was so antsy. “What if Harry hates the game that I love because his introduction wasn’t a positive experience? At least with me I know it’d be positive.” That’s fair. Odd, but fair. I still don’t understand but at least I can empathize with the feeling of anxiety for my kids. I just love watching my kids do something they are passionate about.
Maybe we’re both a hot mess. Ya, it was a couple bad nights. And ya, there have been a couple bad games over the years. The nights and the games weren’t about me though. They never are. I truly believe that whatever the hard nights and harder games bring to my kid, it’s going to be awesome. Like mindblowingly perfect because it’s going to be EXACTLY what Harry needs to grow into the person he is meant to become. What could be better than that?