Every year, I come down with a terrible case of momnesia.
Momnesia, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a medical condition that occurs when a mother has been so traumatized by a particular event involving her child that she forgets it completely, leading her, in many cases, to repeat the trauma.
A great example of this is childbirth. Another great example of this is signing one’s child up for basketball when one’s child is clearly not a basketball player. The reason I’m writing this post is so that next year, when I, in my annual fit of momnesia, am tempted to sign my son up for basketball again, I’ll have a written record of why I shouldn’t.
Basketball, I think, is a game that boys need to know how to play. A kid has a hoop in his driveway, and a playdate turns into a game. Kids play it at recess, they play it at camp, they play pickup games in college and as adults. But basketball, I’m discovering, is just not my son’s sport.
In kindergarten, when he played with some kids from his class, he spent most of every game with his fingers in his mouth, running up and down the court and pretending to shoot at invisible bad guys on the sidelines. I signed him up again in first grade, reasoning that he was older, and that he didn’t suck on his fingers anymore. But it wasn’t much better. Instead of putting his hands in his mouth, he kept his hands in the air the whole time – really, the whole time – because the coach had told them to keep their hands up. Plus, he constantly complained about going to practices, and he was acutely aware of the fact that nobody passed to him. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t sign him up again.
But then this year, November rolled around and the sign-up emails went out, and I signed him up again. I switched to a different rec center, and I managed to get him on a team with his best friend from preschool (which was his one condition for playing again). But it’s as if I’d completely forgotten how bad the season was the year before. Instead, I thought, well, he’s older now, he’ll understand the game better, and at a new rec center with new kids, he’ll have a fresh start. Like I said, momnesia.
We started the season off in January, and I have to say, he did play better. But the other kids played better, too, and they figured out not to pass to him after about five minutes. The poor kid went the whole season without scoring a single basket. In fact, he went the whole season hardly ever even touching the ball. Yesterday was the final game, and let’s just say that at the trophy ceremony afterwards (of course every kid gets a trophy), when it came time for the coach to present my son with his trophy, and to say a little something about him, the coach said that he’s “the intellectual of the team,” who thinks about each play. He graciously left out the part about how he doesn’t actually execute the plays after he thinks about them, but it wasn’t that hard to read between the lines.
Still, I couldn’t have been more proud of him. I mean, it’s really easy to go out there every week and to be the star player who scores all the baskets and dominates the game. But it’s a lot harder to show up when you know that you’re most likely not going to touch the ball the whole game, that when you’re wide open nobody’s going to pass to you, and that you pretty much have no chance of scoring.
I’d much rather have a kid with that kind of character, I told him, than one who’s got a natural instinct for the game. But we both agreed that next year, maybe we should skip the signups. I just hope that when I’m having my momnesia in November, I’ll remember to go back and re-read this post.