As my son gets older, his interest in the games he used to love has waned — hide and seek, tickle monster, and duck-duck-goose are a thing of the past. When he asks me to play with him nowadays, he usually wants me to dare him to drink or eat a gross concoction of items in the fridge, allow him to fire Nerf guns at me, or toss some sort of sports ball back and forth, all the while coaching me on my bad throwing and catching abilities.
One afternoon, we were throwing a football around in the driveway. My performance wasn’t up to his standards, as usual.
“Mom, just let it glide off your fingers like this,” he said as he demonstrated how the football was supposed to be thrown. I tossed it back.
“No, Mom, like this,” he demonstrated again. I tossed it back.
“Mom, just give it a little twirl as it leaves your hand. A little razzle dazzle as they say,” he said as he tossed it again.
“They say that, huh?” I said and tossed it back. “Raff,” I continued, “I’ve never been very good at throwing or catching. I’m sorry. I’m just not very coordinated.”
“Did you ever play any sports in school?” Raff asked curiously.
“Well, none that required hand and eye coordination. I was on the swim team all through high school.” Raff looked unimpressed.
“Did you play any other sports?” he asked.
I guess he was hoping that I had suppressed some awesome memories of me being a sports legend.
“No. I didn’t. Everyone expected me to play basketball because of my height, but I didn’t have the coordination or the competitive drive to practice to get better.” I explained. Suddenly I was reliving my junior high years. It wasn’t easy being 5’9 in the ninth grade and being clumsy and uncoordinated as all get out.
“But how do you know if you never tried?” Raff asked, with a look of hope on his face.
“Well, if you must know, I did try once. I tried out for the basketball team when I was in the ninth grade. I had a crush on a boy who played basketball, and I thought I could impress him by attempting to play.”
“And?” Raff prompted.
“And… it did not end well for me. I ended up in the basketball court with my dress up over my head. It was very embarrassing.”
“Oh no. You have to tell me what happened.” Raff took my hand and lead me to the porch steps and beckoned me to sit down.
“Well, like I said, I decided to try out for the basketball team to try to impress a boy. The girls had practice in the afternoon, after school, and the boys practiced in the morning before school. I would bring a gym bag to school with me with my basketball clothes in it that I would change into before practice. So one morning, I wore a dress to school, and it was raining. So all of the kids had to go into the gym before school instead of getting to play outside.”
“My school does that too!” Raff said, still clinging on my every word.
“Exactly, just like yours. So we were all in the gym, and I was sitting with my friends. And all of a sudden, a basketball accidentally got away from the guy that I had a crush on and bounced close to where I was sitting. And I thought ‘here’s my chance! I can show him the basketball skills I’ve been learning!’ so I rushed to get the basketball. But another girl rushed to get it, too. And out of fear that I wouldn’t be the one that got to throw it back to him, I got in too big of a hurry and didn’t watch my footing as I rushed down the bleacher steps.”
“Oh no!” Raff exclaimed. He covered his face with his hands then peeked at me through his fingers.
“Oh yes,” I said, assuring him that his assumptions were correct. “I tripped over my own feet and tumbled the rest of the way down the bleachers, and skidded out onto the basketball court. And somehow the back of my dress ended up over my head. And I didn’t even have cute undies on that day.” I said sadly.
“That is awful! Did you get hurt?” Raff asked in a concerned voice.
“Only my pride. But I didn’t go to basketball practice any more after that day. I was just too embarrassed.”
“Did that boy you liked come over to help you up?” Raff asked.
“No he didn’t. He and his friends just laughed at me,” I said while cringing as if I were reliving it all over again.
“Oh. Mama, I’m sorry he did that. If I was there a long time ago, I would have helped you up,” He said sweetly.
“I know you would have because you’re my sweetie. I’m so proud of your kind heartedness.”
“Well I promise that if I ever see a girl fall down I’ll help her up. and if her dress comes up I won’t look at her ugly underwear,” Raff said with all sincerity.
I busted up laughing and pulled him closer and hugged him tightly. “Oh, Raff, I love you so. Don’t ever quit being so sweet.”
“I won’t Mama. Because I know you’ll find out and I’ll get in big trouble,” he said, still wrapped up in my hug.
“Yep, as long as you remember that you’re going to do just fine,” I said with a smile.