The first day of school swirls around the mind of a new kid for the entire summer before. As difficult as it is to be a new student, being the parent of a new student is even more emotional. Moms and dads are not built to handle the pain and disappointment of their children. We cope, but we’re never quite prepared. This year, Bink started a new school for 3rd grade. It’s a really wonderful, nurturing and challenging school that we’re proud to be part of as a family. All the “in his best interest” talk in the world still created quite a bit of anxiety in our home.
We took the rascals to the schoolyard to celebrate their big brother’s newest experience. Bink has always been an excellent student; never earning a grade lower than an A-. He’s not a Type A personality, and needs a lot of support in new social situations though. Immediately, his dad and I sensed his nerves and straight up fear as we rounded the corner. This was one of those roots and wings moments. We were there as his foundation, but our soon to be nine-year-old needed to rely on his wings.
We were lined up by grade and then by class. All round us students, teachers, and parents were high-fiving and catching up just as old friends do. We were all anxious. An intuitive and gracious father of a returning student tapped Bink on the shoulder and asked him his name. (Another reason to love this school. It feels like a community) From there, his son introduced our son to a group of friends in the same class.
While walking him into the room he would spend most of his waking hours until June, I turned to Philip, “Why am I crying? It’s not my first day.” I had to get myself together before pulling Bink out of line to center him. “You have to fan your eyes, buddy. If you rub them your face will be all red and you’ll be too handsome for this class.” I hoped he’d laugh enough to see past my own tears.
I also hoped and prayed he’d find his path and a little space to belong. Picking him up later that day, his dad was able to witness his first born in that exact space-the basketball court. Although he hasn’t played any organized basketball (well, not since that debacle when he was five) Bink has cultivated a fairly consistent outside shot. He’s the master of H-O-R-S-E in our backyard. Just ask Uncle Chris. When Philip got out of the car to call for him, Bink asked, “Can I play a little longer with my friends.” His friends, he said. (Smiles) In the subsequent weeks he has gained the nickname “Money” from his classmates. I have little doubt that even if he couldn’t shoot or dribble, just being willing to participate in sports provided Bink a pathway to acceptance.
This is how we source our lives from sports. We find little commonalities on the field which leads to the sharing of big thoughts away from the game. Bink stays a little later on Fridays to play with his “friends” and it’s been great for his confidence. The next time you see a group of youngsters playing on the school yard courts, know that the swoosh of the ball isn’t just a score. It’s also part of the language of life.
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