When I was 12 years old, sports was all I cared about. I didn’t matter what I played as long as someone was keeping score. We had the best basketball court in the neighborhood so the boys would drop by to practice I’d challenge to a game of H-O-R-S-E.
It didn’t matter if they were older or stronger than I was, I would take them on. I spent hours shooting one shot from the street that was my ace in the hole. From the spot, which was slightly elevated, the hoop blended into the mountains making the basket seem further away than it actually was. During the summer months I’d practice a hundred shots from that spot and count how many I made.
Have you ever played someone at H-O-R-S-E who has one annoyingly accurate shot? That was the street shot. When the older kids thought they had me on the ropes, I’d reel off four or five straight from the street.
One friend got so frustrated after I beat him by one letter that he kicked my basketball down the street. I ran after after it giggling which made him even more upset.
My strategy worked until my brother decided to perfect “the grass shot” which was a totally illegal, out of bounds baseline shot I couldn’t knock down if my life depended on it.
I bring this up because I’ve watched my two sons compete with each other lately. Lincoln is patient, and although he’s competitive with himself, he doesn’t exhibit the outward competitiveness I see in my youngest son, Kai. Lincoln would rather teach himself how to solve the 7×7 V-Cube than hustle sodas from the neighbors.
A couple of years ago this bothered me. I couldn’t imagine having a son who’s ambivalent towards athletics. When Kai smacked a baseball into our neighbor’s yard this summer I couldn’t have been happier. Finally, I had my son who was into sports!
Yet as I spend time with Lincoln, I see traits that make me proud, on or off the court. He is far more patient and thoughtful than I was at his age. He’s analytical where I was impulsive. He’s probably a much better friend than I was too.
For Christmas Lincoln got a small RC helicopter. A few days later I decided to buy one too with the idea that we could spend time together, learning to fly our helicopters. I’ve been practicing while he’s at school, thinking I’d improve my skills to the point where I could share what I’ve learned with my son.
That was my thinking anyway until tonight. After I crashed my copter into the piano and ceiling fan, Lincoln took the control pad from me and piloted his way around the room without a crash.
And then he did something I wasn’t expecting. He circled the room again, but this time he did it backwards. The copter coasted back towards him until he gently landed it onto his open hand.
“That’s how you do it, Dad”
He just swished one from the street.