For a guy who doesn’t have a job, I’m insanely busy this week.

Monday I had to run down to the lake house to meet with some contractors who will, hopefully, be doing some upgrades to the place before next summer rolls around. That meeting, along with spending a couple hours blowing the last of our leaves down there, took up most of the day before I got the girls home and had to drive the sports practice taxi.

Earlier today was my last library shift of the calendar year. It’s always fun to be in the school in those final, frenzied day before Christmas vacation. The librarian read L’s class a couple Christmas books, including one about the 12 days of Christmas. The kids capped it off with a rousing rendition of the song. It was a very A Christmas Story moment.

Here shortly I’m off to the dentist for a checkup.

I have cleaning and shopping to do ahead of family coming in for the holiday weekend.

I have a large gift that needs to be assembled during hours when I am the only one home.

There’s laundry and organizing to be done in preparation for our trip next week.

We have a practice tonight, another Thursday, then one Friday and Saturday.

I’m seeing Last Jedi tonight.

I’m seeing The War on Drugs on Thursday night.

So it’s looking tough to get any of my promised blogging done. Some of it may just have to wait until the holiday week or the first week of 2018.

But I must share one story from the weekend.

I’m wrapping up my Favorite Songs of the Year post, as it is the season for Best Of lists to be dropped. In that vein, I may have, at the last second, clinched Father of the Year on Sunday.

It was L’s second set of basketball games of the season. We were in the fourth quarter of our first game of the day, down 11–6, and desperate to hit a shot or two. L got the ball on the break, and as had happened just about every time we had a chance for a layup, the other team’s best player came from behind and blocked her shot out of bounds. I thought it was a pretty clean block. And we hadn’t gotten that call all day anyway.[1] But L disagreed. She walked away with both arms up in the air, a look of incredulous disbelief on her face, stomped her feet a little, and yelled “How was that not a foul?”

Listen, on the one hand I totally dig that. She’s a bit of a chucker and this reaction fits that player type.

Still, she’s in third grade and it was an unreasonable reaction.

So I laid into her from the bench. I told her to knock it off. We were trying to get our girls situated for the inbounds play when I noticed she was doubled over, hands under her glasses, crying. I grabbed our other point guard to sub in and called L over. When she got to the bench I asked, “What happened? Did you get hit in the face?”


Here we go.

I leaned over and cut to the chase.

“I don’t care if there was a foul or not, you do not react that way. You showed no respect for the referees. I’ve told you before that you do not complain about the refs when you’re playing. That’s our jobs as coaches. You just keep playing. And if you ever react like that again I will not let you play anymore. Do you understand?”

More tears.

This kid doesn’t cry very often, but she does it the most is when I’ve gotten on her for her behavior. She just does not like to be yelled at by me.

So she was pretty much done for the game. Our other guard was dying after a couple minutes and L was still crying, refusing to go in. After the game she went and sat with S and started crying again. So I left her alone. Several parents came over and asked if she got hurt and I told them what had happened. Once she seemed to be calmed down I went up and explained to S what had happened. And again told L she can’t react like that. More tears. We had an hour between games but I was a starting to think she wasn’t going to calm down. S told me to get lost for awhile so I went over to talk strategy for the next game with the other coaches. Finally L got herself together and hung out with her teammates and acted ok toward me.

In between games two other girls on our team were crying because of things their parents had said to them. None of them were showing up the refs so I’m not sure what their problems were.

Anyway, if my mother, or her spirit or whatever, was able to watch from above, she was probably laughing. I remember a couple times when I acted like a jackass in YMCA baseball or basketball games and she got in my face and told me if I didn’t knock it off, I was done playing. Granted, I think my behavior back then was way worse than what L did. I know I chucked a batting helmet from second base to the dugout once. But it did feel like the transgressions of my youth coming back to haunt me.

I figure we’ll have a talk about this again before her next set of games. It’s fine to be upset, but you don’t stomp around the court acting like you were just the subject of the worst no-call in the history of sports. I do not want my kids being jackasses on the court/field.

Oh, the games? We dropped that first one 13–6. But, man, we played so much better than two weeks ago! We put some basic offense in and it actually worked a couple times. Our defense was better. We rebounded. The other team just had one girl that was the best kid on the court and probably scored 11 of their points. We missed approximately 800 layups or shots within five feet. Despite losing, we coaches felt pretty good after the game. Except for having three girls crying in the hallway.

Then we got our first win of the season in the second game, 12–4. L scored 6, including a pretty decent baseline jumper. We were awesome on defense, dominated the boards against a smaller team, and missed approximately 900 layups or shots within five feet. Our girls really should be hearing “USE THE BACKBOARD!” and “HIT THE SQUARE!” in their sleep because I felt like the three coaches and all the parents spend the entire game yelling those two phrases.

So we’re making progress. Now we have nearly a month to practice before our next doubleheader. We need to work on fundamentals, obviously. We need to teach the girls some simple motion offense to use when things breakdown instead of just having L or our other point guard dribble around until they can take a shot. But it was good to get a win.

  1. Somehow the other team shot eight free throws, making 3, and we shot none, despite both teams hacking the hell out of every shooter. Whatevs…  ↩