Our boys have been involved in several sports, including baseball, soccer and wrestling.
This was the first year they tried basketball. They’re a little more than two years apart so I wasn’t surprised when they were placed on the same recreation team.
But I was fairly nervous.
It wasn’t about their safety: You name a common children’s sports injury, and our family has already experienced it, from mild concussions and sprained knees to black eyes and separated ribs.
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It wasn’t about their lack of basketball skills. OK, actually, I was a little worried about that. I knew they’d be facing teams with boys who had four or five more years of experience on the court. (Our boys are 7 and 10, and some of their classmates have been playing since preschool.) Fortunately, all three of our kids are fairly athletic, so our sons picked up the game quickly.
Mostly I was worried about potential drama on and off the court. Right now, our boys have become the poster children for sibling rivalry. They used to be best friends, but now there are times when they bicker nonstop from morning until bedtime.
And their lives have become a weird reality show-like competition, where they are constantly trying to out-think and out-move each other. They compare everything from grades and video game scores to who can get the most attention from our dogs and who made the most progress on finishing dinner. They scramble to the door to get the first hug from their parents. They race to see who can brush their teeth the fastest. (Although that’s not really something they want to brag about in front of me.)
Apparently the energy that was once used to make their big sister’s life miserable is now targeted at each other. I wasn’t sure how that would play out on a basketball court.
It turns out, I was worrying for nothing. One of our boys plays really strong offense, and the other plays terrific defense. Those are skills that work great on a basketball team.
Within the first five minutes of their first game, our oldest son got the ball, looked around and passed it to his brother. Yes, he had several other teammates, but he chose to throw the ball to his little brother, the very same boy he had trapped earlier in a beanbag chair during a game known as “Smell my pits.”
I was so thrilled that tears actually sprang to my eyes. Then I shared that Proud Mama Moment (the one about the game, not the stinky arm pits) with a few people — all right, pretty much everybody I talked to that week.
One of my friends said that he and his older brother were the same way: They went through cycles where they were best friends, then they weren’t, then they were.
Our boys will grow closer when they get older, he promised. And in high school, if they’re still playing basketball, they’ll have a great time as teammates, he said.
I sure hope so. It’s been really fun to watch our boys play together as a team.