These posts show up on my newsfeed. Various ‘parent’ bloggers sharing the trials and tribulations of raising little ones. Whether it’s something cute, troubling, sad or hysterical when I comment, I try to be supportive and positive. I remember those days very well, though the majority of moms have their children much closer together that I did (I was all about saving my sanity). Instead of starting every comment with, “little kids, little problems. Just wait until they’re teens.” My go to phrase is, “you can’t imagine how fast the time goes. This ‘not sleeping all night’ will not measure on your radar in a very short time.” I get it, parents need to feel they’re not in this alone. Other parents are in the same boat.
I have been watching my 18 year old grandson Landon, (Drew to the rest of the world) play basketball his whole life. Landon’s dad, Tracey was a high school varsity coach when he was born and dad hauled him along to practice before he was potty trained. Landon was playing in a winter travel league by the time he was 10. Went to numerous basketball camps every summer, often winning free throw or 3 points contests competing against boys much older than him. He’s been a phenomenal ball handler since the first day he picked up a basketball.
Like the new mom who feels her days (or nights) will NEVER end, I felt the same way watching Landon play basketball. Year in and year out, his skills/moves/shots/defense/passing ability/court presence became noticeably better to others besides his number one fan. Me. He’s been watched by college coaches since he was in junior high. And I never thought that part would end. This is my fourth year of living in denial.
When the realistic gram looks at Landon, I know this is just the beginning for him. For Landon so far, basketball has been one long teaching camp. Hundreds, no thousands of hours, waking up at 5 to get to the gym, smelly weight rooms, body glistening with sweat, listening to strict trainers, practicing free throws, running laps, learning new plays, defenses, missing family suppers, never going away for spring break because AAU was in full swing by then. Adjusting to new/different /supportive/hopeless/clueless/knowledgeable/and sometimes just plain lousy coaches year after year. (During a game a couple years ago, one asshat coach told Landon at halftime to stop shooting. The reason? Landon scored 29 points in the first half. The coaches kid on Landon’s team-not so much. I recently spotted this dipstick at a game. I can still feel the cut as I bit my lip to refrain from yelling at this lowlife in front of hundreds of people. Yes I can show restraint at times. Honesty, I didn’t want to embarrass Landon).
I know I’m being stupid, silly, and selfish. Can’t help it. Landon’s really just coming into his own. When the not-so-practical gram looks at him, I still want him to be a high school freshman. Proud because he made the varsity team (if you remember, I was less than enthusiastic about him being on the varsity team. I thought he’d get more playing time on junior varsity. I was wrong. In my defense, it was November of 2015, so I almost made it through the year without being wrong). I never thought his 4 years of high school basketball would last all of 2 seconds.
Except for some minor injuries, a concussion and a stress fracture in his foot (which seemed to take forever to heal), Landon has continued to excel in becoming one of the best point guards in the state. Reads the court better than most, and is just as excited when his teammate scores off one of his assists, as he is making his own great shot. Very unselfish player. I just can’t impress on you enough how awesome it’s been to watch him play and grow. And be a small part of his journey. But this is just beginning of his journey.
Now let’s get to Landon’s last basketball game as a Ann Arbor Pioneer. Ugh. Didn’t think it would end this way. This might have been a mistake on my part. Maybe I wasn’t the only one looking ahead to the probable Friday night matchup. That was the game I didn’t think we could get past. (And here it is only March and I’m admitting to a mistake. Let me say though, I never like playing the same team 3 times during a season. Anything can happen. And did). This flying insect themed team, (talk about a buzz kill). In the past, these gnats have had little trouble keeping up with Pioneer during the first half. Normally though, by the third quarter is where we’d extend a nice lead. Pioneer was simply out of sync-the whole game. None of the usual shots were falling for the rest of the team. One dude couldn’t hang onto the ball, another didn’t drive in the paint at all, another guy’s 3 point attempts would not fall. When you’re behind 46-41 in the third quarter and your point guard has 21 of the 41 points, you’re in deep shit. He’s the playmaker, passer, assist dude, plus a great shooter. But he should not account for half of the team’s point total. (Though I try hard not to be vindictive, my fervent prayers on Wednesday night was for the ‘no see’um bugs’ to lose by 40 on Friday. They lost by 20. Probably not right to thank the good Lord for answering that one-at least half way.
Landon had a good game, but his team as a whole played poorly. Simple as that. Final score was 63-52 and Landon had 26. Half their total points. Pioneer finished the year with an awesome 18-3 record. As a 4 year varsity player, Landon scored 1,109 points for the Pioneers. Dude. You rock. Seriously. You rock.
I was numb driving home after the loss. Couldn’t accept Landon’s playing days, with me rooting for him in the stands was over. No more high school stat book to keep. It’s too soon. Reality hit after I got home and changed clothes. Since Landon became a freshman varsity player, Tracey has provided me with Pioneer sportswear for the games. I keep them on the right hand side of my closet. I slipped off my purple shirt, stood by my closet and cried. No need to hang it back up until next week, or next year. As Jovi would say, “all done.”
On the upside, Landon gets a 3 month rest (the first and longest since he started playing organized ball. He sure can use it) before summer. Shannon mentioned he’s playing in an all-star game this spring, so I’ll get to watch his awesome moves one more time before he leaves for college. Landon will be spending several weeks at Holy Cross this summer, come back home for a bit before embarking on his collegiate career. I’m excited for him and very proud. Something he’s worked for his whole young life. It’s quite an accomplishment. Hope Landon makes the best of this golden opportunity, doing something he loves-playing hoops, plus getting a top notch education with his scholarship.
Still sad (and haven’t come to terms that’s it’s over yet) I won’t be watching Landon play in person twice a week. Young moms, remember that when you’re up for a couple hours during the night with a fussy baby. Life (their babyhood, childhood, basketball games, dance recitals, school plays, concerts, graduations, staying at grandma’s) goes by lickety-split. Way too fast. So be grateful for your kids. That part of our lives doesn’t last near long enough. Slow down and enjoy the ride…