A lot of ground to cover so let’s get into it.

Today is a first: first sick kid day of the year. M is home for the first time in her high school career with an upset stomach. L also seems to be getting a cold, which is delightful. Usually C is the first to fall when illnesses begin circulating. The 2020 primary parental hope is that one symptom doesn’t turn into two, which turns into quarantining and testing and whatnot. It is nice to have a physician in the house so we can get the paperwork signed to get M back in school quick if this passes without developing into something worse.

Busy, busy few days for L.

Friday she got contacts. S and I pushed them as we were worried about her continuing to play sports in glasses. I had at least three sports injuries related to glasses and I’m not sure how L has avoided having anything worse than her glasses go flying in the midst of a game.

She isn’t wearing them 100% of the time, which is fine. Not sure why she prefers glasses but in time she may figure out how much more convenient contacts are, and how her vision is generally better with them. I sure wish my eyes would tolerate contacts so I could go back.

Saturday was her birthday. She had a few friends over to help celebrate. Since she’s a unique kid it was a coed party, three girls and two boys. They did a competitive obstacle course that took up a good chunk of time. Although it was cool outside, we cranked the pool heat up and they swam for a little while.

Then she had basketball games Sunday and Monday.

Sunday they played a school that is usually really good and which they have never beaten in three previous attempts. We had adjusted the offense in practice to counter the team’s pressing and trapping. Thus it was 100% predictable that the first time our girls faced the press they totally panicked and did exactly the opposite of what we taught them.

The first three minutes were super chaotic. But when we called a timeout we were only down 4–0. Our girls settled down and finally got a few things to work. They caught a big break when the best player on the other team – who is really, really good – ran into a screen at full speed and got laid out, landing on two fingers that were already injured. She sat on the bench for the last four minutes of the first half and we took advantage. We went on an 11–4 run and had the lead at halftime.

The other team’s stud came back in to start the second half and they quickly erased the lead. The third quarter was your standard mess of a middle school game. They took the lead, we took it back, there were lots of turnovers, plenty of bad shots, at least 58 held ball whistles.

We were down two early in the second half. L was breaking the trap, barreling up the sideline at full speed, guarded by their best player. Another defender stepped up to trap her and L cut back to her right. The approaching defender ran into her at full speed and their heads conked. L went down on the floor crying, holding her face. It took about a minute to get her up. There was no blood, but she was in a ton of pain. She subbed out and never came back in. That two point deficit turned into a nine-point loss.

It wasn’t just because of her absence, although since we only have two legit guards right now (our third is quarantining after her dad tested positive) it made it awfully tough to attack the press and traps. She was our leading scorer with six, but I’m not sure it would have mattered.

But, hey, it was instant proof that wearing contacts was a good thing. Her glasses would have been crunched in that collision if she had them on. Her cheek is pretty bruised and sore, though.

Monday we played a team that we beat by five last year. We thought most of that team’s good players were in 7th grade now so expected an easy win. Which seemed like a correct assessment for most of the game. We had a girl who looked utterly lost all day Sunday have the game of her life, scoring 14. We looked great on defense. St C had some size and were killing us on the boards but after six or seven offensive rebounds, we would finally grab a loose ball and get out and run.

Midway through the fourth quarter we were up 26–12.

And then something flipped. A girl for St C who hadn’t done a damn thing the entire game other than rebound suddenly started posting up, drop-stepping, and laying the ball in or drawing a foul and then hitting free throws. Our girls stopped running any offense and were getting lost on defense. Still, it was 26–19 with about two minutes left. We were still going to win this thing, right?

St C began pressing. It was a decent press, mostly because they were tall and it was hard to see/pass over it. But it wasn’t as good as the press we saw Sunday. Yet our girls kept doing exactly the wrong thing. If we threw the ball in to a forward, the guards would run up court and leave her to figure out the press on her own. If the girl playing point got the ball, she would dribble into the half court trap. When L got the ball in half court, she would drive into a triple team. We threw some absolutely awful cross court passes that turned into steals. Twice the head coach muttered to me, “What the fuck are we doing?” It was a little stressful!

Fortunately, again, this is middle school basketball. All those mistakes only gave St C’s like a 15% chance of scoring, and the clock was on our side. They hit two free throws with four seconds left to cut it to 26–24. We called a time out to set up a play. We told the girls very clearly, after the ball comes in, everyone else race down court. Whoever has the ball should throw it long. We don’t care if we catch it or not, we just want the clock to run. Naturally three girls ran the wrong way on the inbound play, the ball comes into a girl who should not have it, she takes two dribbles without ever looking up court, and the ball gets knocked out of bounds. Thank goodness it went off the defender. There were only 0.6 seconds left. This time we threw the ball long and the clock ran out.

Seriously, girls…

Weird how bad we felt after the game. We played a great game for 18–19 minutes. But those last 5–6 wiped out all the positives. Oh well, we are 2–1 going into the stupid three-week break because Catholic schools in Indy can’t get on the same fall break schedule and CYO has decided it’s too hard to work around kids being gone. You know, if we played basketball at the right time of year this wouldn’t be a problem…

With L now in sixth grade I can no longer volunteer at the school library (only K–5 have library time). I don’t think they’re allowing parents into the library anyway, and the old librarian, who was my Missouri buddy, retired. There are still chances for parents to help out, though, and I took advantage Friday and Monday.

Friday was an 8th grade fundraising lunch to earn funds for the Washington DC trip. Five eighth grade parents helped serve the lunches over a two hour stretch. It was funniest to see the little kids, since I’m not in the part of the school ever. Those kindergartners are tiny! There are the kids who are totally clueless and the ones who want to chat you up. I enjoyed the older girls who know me from kickball saying “Hi Mr B!”

But the best was when the daughter of L’s head coach walked by. She’s a second grader and has known me since L and her sister first played together three years ago and she would come to after-school practices. She also has a big personality and is a little sassy. I was standing at the fruit and chips table when I heard someone say, “‘Sup?” I looked down and there was little M. She nodded her head, tossed her hair, and walked away. I about pissed myself.

Monday I was on lunch duty for L’s class. This involves taking them to lunch and recess for an hour so the teachers can have a break. Luckily it was a gorgeous day so they could eat and play outside.

It was interesting watching the two classes break into groups. The girls are mostly one large group, with another smaller group just to the side. A few girls are quieter and sit on the periphery but are still in the main circle. But there is generally one big conversation with everyone laughing and having fun.

A majority of the boys had one, big, dumbass group. I say dumbass because most of those kids are dumbasses. I think their parents would agree. But all the weird boys were in their own area, spread out but within talking distance so they could argue when any one of them said anything. I’m sure all wasn’t perfect in that big girls group, but they at least put up a display of togetherness. It’s kind of brutal to see how kids are excluded, whether by their own choice or because the bigger group has pushed them out. I mean, most of these kids in the outcast group are super weird. But you want to tell the bigger group “Hey, sometimes weird friends are the coolest friends to have.”