Number 3 is a very naturally talented athlete.
And he’s playing travel basketball this year for the first time.
He’s done rec basketball for the past couple years, but travel is new territory for him.
Since he’s got some significant issues with anxiety, new territory and Number 3 don’t mix well.
He loves basketball.
But being new to travel and not being super confident with all the plays the team has, he’s very unsure of himself on the court.
His head often gets in his way.
And every day when it’s time to go to practice or a game, he says the same thing:
“I hate basketball. I don’t want to go.”
I know he doesn’t hate basketball. I know he gets on the court and he’s still so unsure of himself that it’s the anxiety talking.
But with every game, he’s been doing better and better.
He’s a really good rebounder. But as soon as he gets the ball, he immediately passes it. Like he’s afraid to hold onto it because he’s going to mess up.
Tonight he had game one of the league championships.
The coach let all the parents and players know that he was going to be playing whoever was playing the best and/or whoever was needed depending on the situation and strengths of the other team.
Number 3 didn’t play at all the first quarter which was what I expected.
In the second quarter, the coach put him in.
A couple minutes in, he got the ball.
And instead of rushing to get rid of it, he paused, set himself up, and took a shot.
A three pointer.
I don’t think I could have screamed any louder.
I felt the lump rising in my throat, but I pushed it back down.
He played the rest of that quarter.
And he was back in for the third quarter.
He was aggressive and grabbing rebounds and looking… almost fearless.
And then he got the ball again.
And instead of immediately passing it he took his time again and set up for a shot.
Another three pointer.
I screamed like a lunatic.
And then I bawled my brains out.
Number 5 was sitting right next to me.
“Mommy, why are you crying?” she asked me.
Number 3 had a huge smile on his face.
“Because Number 3 is happy,” I told her. “And so am I.”
His team ended up winning the game which means they play again tomorrow.
In the car on the way home I told him how proud I was of him.
“I was a little bit sad when the coach didn’t put me in in the first quarter, ” he said. “And then when he put me in, I was really nervous…
…and then I just started raining threes,” he said.
“And I was happy. I can’t wait to play tomorrow.”
That’s all any parent ever wants to hear. That their kid had fun.
But when it’s your kid who is plagued by anxiety to the point of being nearly crippled and wanting to quit, well, it doesn’t get better than that.