After 13-year-old Mutant Ninja Daughter’s basketball game on Saturday, the coach announced a Sunday morning practice where the parents were going to play against the girls in a practice game. Right away, my daughter made it very clear that she did not want me to play in this game. I decided to respect her wishes: she was one of the oldest on the team and I figured her teen hormones were raging making me a total embarrassment on and off the court.
Sunday morning, I drove her to the park. My MN Daughter got out of the car with a tired and sad face and ambled into the gym. I figured I would sit in my car and read while she played with the other girls and their parents. The woman next to me got out of her car, smiled and asked if I was coming in to play. I told her that my daughter had asked me not to play; she quickly told me that her daughter wanted her to play and was hoping to embarrass her. I asked how old her daughter was and she said, “Thirteen.” Yikes! Her thirteen-year-old probably had not hatched as many hormones and still tolerated her mother being in the same vicinity.
Sill, I naively wondered if after MN Teen Daughter saw that all the other parents were playing, perhaps she would come out and ask me to join in? NOT!
After sitting in my car, I decided to enter the gym and sit on the bench to watch the remaining 10 minutes of practice. Inside the gym I discovered joyful parents and girls playing a fun game of basketball. My daughter’s early frown was replaced by a huge smile and she was enjoying the highly competitive game that she had benched me from!
I sat with a smile truly enjoying all of the enthusiasm for about 10 minutes, but the game did not end. As the practiced moved into overtime, I started to resent that my morning was slowly being taken over by the practice that I was excluded from; I really did not enjoy watching the other engaged parents getting in a good workout!
Had I not been the Ninja Mom who stood in line for an hour to sign her daughter up to play at the park? Had I not been the Ninja mom who paid the fee to join the league? Had I not been the Ninja Mom who patiently drove to countless sporting goods shops all over Los Angeles to find my MN Daughter a good looking pair of basketball shoes? When the local basketball shoe search failed, had I not been the Ninja Mom who emailed her daughter from a Sports Store in Copenhagen photos of women’s basketball shoes from my iPhone?
I am convinced that Magnus, the adorable and patient Danish Shoe Salesman, believed me to be a certifiable lunatic for partaking in this ridiculous endeavor – emailing my daughter 6000 miles away basketball shoe photos from his store in the middle of Copenhagen (I had to agree with Magnus). And to top it all off, from the bench on this Sunday morning, I watched my MN Teenage Daughter running down the court with all the other parents in Basketball Shoe #3 I brought home from Denmark!
I decided that this was not a battle I wanted to wage…..Instead, I took a deep breath and bit my tongue reminding myself that:
I am truly happy that she is playing basketball and exercising. I am truly happy that she is on a team with new and different girls from her schoolmates. I am truly happy that there are leagues for girls that are competitive and encouraging. I am truly happy that she is a good player and working hard on the court.
And after practice, she was truly happy to ask me to drive her to meet a friend for lunch and a manicure. And she was truly happy to ask me for money to pay for these things.
I truly look forward to the day where she is truly happy to have me join with other parents and play a game of basketball – the day when I am no longer an embarrassment and benched!