My first thought was, “which one of the kids took my basketball?” I normally place it in the kid’s Radio Flyer wagon, but it was nowhere to be found.
After spending a day sitting in front of a computer, I enjoy the relaxation that comes from shooting around on the hoop just outside our home. A sliver of sun shone through the clouds and my neighbors car wasn’t blocking my designated 3-point line. Just me and the sound of a swishing net.
But none of that mattered if I couldn’t find my Spalding.
As I was about to head back inside, I heard the faint sounds of a ball hitting the pavement. I peered out of the garage to see my youngest son standing under the basket with my ball. I watched as he “granny” tossed it towards the hoop. A regulation basketball tossed upwards by a 2.5 year old doesn’t quite make it to the rim. In fact, it barely goes as high as he is tall.
If he was lucky, the ball would end up a few feet away on the grass. But if the ball hit the curb, he’d give chase until it rolled onto our neighbor’s driveway or ricocheted off their car.
I thought of the endless hours my father spent teaching me how to shoot a basketball. I didn’t possess much upper body strength, and I’d tend to drop the ball down next to my chin. I can’t imagine how many times my father instructed me to keep the ball above my head where it was more difficult to block. Before mom called us inside for dinner my dad would stand under the basket and retrieve the ball as I took shots from different areas of the court in a game called “Around the World”. The number of shots over the years would easily number into the thousands. Some even found the bottom of the net.
Those were my thoughts as I left the garage and headed towards my son.
For the next twenty minutes I stood under the basket and tried to anticipate what direction the ball would bounce after leaving his small arms. We talked, and laughed and danced around the court together. If I wasn’t already clear on the issue, he told me again that the ball was his.
A few more years will pass before he’s able to get the ball anywhere near the rim. But until then, I’m happy to play the role of rebounder. Because I know how much this time meant to another young boy many years ago.