The doll this year has found the value of playing team sports: teammates. Though she must suffer through the work portion of practices, time with her teammates is equivalent to hanging out with friends. So while her coaches may believe she’s “bonding” and “playing hard” and “getting to know the nuances of the game” the doll is having a good time hanging out with with friends.
Playing volleyball is one thing, but when the doll informed me she wanted to play basketball–a game she swore she would never ever play, I was/am in shock to say the least. You see I love the sport of basketball. Memories of my youth are filled with playing basketball against my brothers in our driveway; painting a foul line on the cement of our driveway, so I could perfect my foul shot; working hard, attending basketball camps and eventually playing junior varsity basketball in High School. While I was in college, I even coached CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) basketball for 5th and 6th grade girls. If there is one pure perfect sport for me, basketball is that sport…and the doll knows this.
“Mom, my nose is a ball magnet” the doll would tell me, every time I asked her if she wanted me to sign her up to play. “It won’t be if you learn to catch the ball instead of having it go through your hands to your face…” I would offer; only to have a “You don’t understand” sigh thrown back in my face. So I didn’t push. For a few years she was a ballerina dancer, so there was no time for anything but dance. But those days are over and she recognized that playing sports helped cultivate friends; a conclusion she came to on her own; which made playing basketball sound like fun to her while her mother couldn’t be more elated.
A directive came home last week that the diocese insisted for the health and well being of the players, that all (male) coaches have an adult female present during team practices, to ensure no improprieties were taking place. It also wouldn’t hurt if a girl had a issue in which a man may be uncomfortable dealing with. I decided I would be the parent on Monday’s as I work across the street from the gymnasium and arrived shortly after practice began yesterday. When I first arrived, I walked up to the coaches’ wife and explained my position. Elated she didn’t have to stay, she quickly imparted any necessary information and then beat thief out of there. I pulled out my Ipod and began to play a game….until I felt as if someone were looking at me.
“What are you doing here?” the doll mouthed from across the gym. “Just ignore me” I mouthed back. “What?” the doll mouthed. “JUST IGNORE ME” I mouthed back in a slow and succinct manner. “What?” The doll mouthed again. This time I ignored her, which seemed to work for a few minutes. After a while I became bored and began to watch the girls practice. That’s when I noticed the doll kept looking to see if I were paying attention–instead of listening or looking at her coach. “Oh brother!” I thought, “This is not going to be good”. Mercifully, the coach gave the girls a water break and the doll walked over and asked, “What are you doing here?” “Your coach needs a mom to attend your practices from now on, I told him I would take Mondays…but doll stop looking at me while your on the court.” “What are you talking about?” she said offended I would even suggest… “Doll every time I look up, you’re looking over here to see if I’m looking at you. I am not your coach…I can’t coach you. Don’t look at me”. “Mom, there is something seriously wrong with you, if you think I’m even remotely interested in looking at you. I may happen to look in your direction, but not at you…” she explained. “Whatever doll, just don’t be surprised if I take a picture of you every time you do.” She turned in a huff and went back onto the court, trying her best to not look at me during her practice, yet failing miserably.
Later, long after practice had ended she said, “Mom I wasn’t trying to look at you…I just couldn’t help myself.” Smiling back at her I agreed, “Doll, I know how difficult it is to look away from such a magnificent beauty as myself…but for the sake of your team, you must”. Narrowing her eyes and giving me a “What the heck?” look she said, “Yeah, mom, that’s not it”. Whatever doll!!