Too many snow days has caused a lull in our regional cooking but keep checking back. We've got Indiana coming up and with the cold weather here in Missouri, I'm thinking thoughts of Hawaii. I've forgotten what WARM breezes feel like.
We have more snowflakes falling at a nice clip today so I'm guessing tomorrow will be a snow day with my daughters looking to be entertained. (Read: watching more TV and making some microwave caramel popcorn.) In the meantime, here's an adventure from our weekend.
It sort of pained me to tell people my daughter was giving up dance to concentrate on basketball and spring soccer. Well sort of, and perhaps if I was being totally honest it wouldn't be discomforting to see my little girly girl change into an athlete seemingly overnight. And not that dancers aren't athletes. I think Paula Abdul would make an incredible bodyguard.
Liz is lithe and graceful, fit to be a dancer in my scout's eyes. I loved watching both daughters in their beautiful, classy dance outfits in last May's dance recital. I was gearing up for that again this year. I liked the other parents and it seemed a more civilized way to get exercise without the notion of competition and all that brings out in parents. If you've been to a youth league game recently you know what I mean.
But I think I'm more in love with the idea of having dancers, probably because I never got the chance to dance as a child. In my small Kansas town we lived too far away from a dance studio for it to be a viable option. Now rather than live vicariously through my daughters I am thinking of joining an adult class to get a start on becoming graceful. Though I suspect I might be too late in that regard. Though my balance and posture do need a lot of help.
A yoga instruction recently explained that she's always getting potential students who fear their balance isn't good enough to even try yoga. She says she reassures everyone that balance isn't something you're born with, it's always changing and needing work even for her entire yoga class. I like that idea that we must continually work on balance and balancing what live throws our way. That's why I'll try and support my daughters in whatever direction their hearts takes them.
It's just that Liz's new-found love of basketball is treading close to my most passionate sport. Basketball conjures up many moments of dread and pain and embarrassment -- puking during warm-up drills and going a full season in high school with barely a win. Oh, there were a moments of glory (winning a game!) as with all sports, but just hearing sneakers squeak on hardwood (even making that sound on my home's not-quite-as-buffed-floor) flips this little switch in my brain where I start thinking: "I don't want to watch, I want to play."
And Katie who's five wanted to play basketball too. She might have some power. And since she's so short and petite, she's going to have to be one tenacious point guard. But early indications show Katie's spunky enough to not let anybody get in her way. She's NOT the daughter who cowers from rebounds. She's in fact the one child clearly running down MOST rebounds and dribbling down the count in her "Fun Basketball" practice/games. She's gotten more ball time than her sister by far, but that's a stat we don't mention out loud.
There are so many things I want to point out to both girls. I want to teach them about playing all-out all the time, setting picks, boxing out and using their hips, and knowing that making a basket is 90 percent confidence. But I try to stay quiet, reminding myself that from the court it's hard to focus on what parents are yelling from the stands. (Her grandfather -- my father -- enjoyed yelling instructions in one game. I kept hushing him, even apologizing to the coach after the game. The coach was nice enough to say he'd not heard my father.)
I wish I could will my daughters my court sense. I always thought I had good court awareness, vital for full-court presses and fast breaks, few and far between in third-grade basketball. I still motion too much with my hands, as if I'm a puppeter moving Liz to where she needs to be on defense.
And Liz's defense is improving. My friend Christi who's a good player and still referees and coaches in her freetime, says that at this age defense is key because it's hard for most kids to basically heave the ball to make a basket.
Liz only really gets an hour once a week at practice to work on shooting because it's too darn cold to practice shooting on our outdoor goal. What Liz really needed was the knowledge that she COULD make a goal. Too often I hear her say she cannot do something around the house, and I have to turn to Dick Vitale speech to get her to do her job. I was concerned she's feel that offense and making baskets was "too hard."
But last Saturday's game proved to be the best challenge yet with just five players including Liz. With 10 players at the beginning of the year, the coach had the luxury of playing each girl for half of each 10-minute quarter. Liz was about to get more playing time and she and her teammates responded to the call. Liz, always a bit hesitant when lining up around the circle for the tip, got the ball and started to dribble it, her first time to actually dribble in four games.
Just having her near the group rebounding with her hands up was an improvement over her first two games where she'd duck with her hands over her head when the ball came anywhere near her. We've been working on playing catch in the basement to work through that fear.
This game, Liz got a few rebounds and on one, heaved it back up. That's when adrenaline came in and her toss was a perfect arc toward the basket. And the basket went in! I was overjoyed but tried to not act too excited. Her sportswriting father smiled and had a great deal to say on the subject later. I was proud beyond words, and I know that even if she doesn't make a basket or win another game for the rest of the season, this year has been worth it.
Liz seemed to keep it in perspective, acting like her first basket in a game EVER was no big deal. I'm trying to do the same and keep my emotions in check. But I cannot help to think about the bigger picture: She's learning so much more than she thinks. She's learning to be part of a team and all the intangibles that come with working with others. She's also learning more about herself -- self-esteem which can come even on a team that loses more than wins -- and find the ability to BELIEVE is can do anything she sets her mind to do. I think she's learning that practice can provide results that go beyond one game, one basket. And she seems to really like it, which makes me think she'll be sticking with it.
I'm getting too excited now and I really do need to check into that dance class for my own sense of movement and dance floor awareness. I really do need to find out if sneakers squeak on dance floors.