Over the last two months, my nine-year-old son has been showing a renewed and greater interest in playing basketball. (Having watched Linsanity ago played a part, I’m pretty sure!) After a three-month break, he’s back in basketball training. When he goes to the neighborhood park to play with his friends, he wears his basketball shoes and brings along his ball so he’s ready to play anytime.

Pick-Up Basketball GameI was recently surprised when, one afternoon, he chose to join a pick-up basketball game with some boys in the park instead of playing tag or just hanging out with his usual playground friends. Although some of his friends also play basketball, they didn’t want to join this pick-up game because most of the boys who were going to play were older, taller and more intense players. Perhaps because my son was as tall as some of those boys and he has built up his confidence, he was okay with joining their pick-up game.

As I watched their game from a few meters away (on my usual park bench, sitting with our dog), I started to see how this pick-up basketball game was a glimpse into the bigger world out there.

  1. You don’t always get to choose who you work with. Sometimes, you just have to learn to manage around or beyond personalities to get the work done.
  2. You have to know how to work around language barriers (some of the boys spoke in Tagalog, which my son barely understands and doesn’t speak).
  3. If people around you play rough and you don’t (like my son), you have to learn to play your own way without getting pushed around.
  4. If people around you use foul language and you don’t (like my son), just let it in one ear then out the other.
  5. Even if you’re the only player on the court who is homeschooled, wears eyeglasses and looks like a foreigner (my son is fair-skinned and his facial features can look more Japanese, Korean or Chinese than Filipino), it doesn’t matter for as long as everyone is focused on the game.
  6. Parents can let their children play and watch them from a safe distance. Just have a water jug, towel, or a hug ready if needed.

A year ago, I would be worried about letting my son play a pick-up game of basketball. I’d be worried about letting him play with boys who were bigger than him, who cursed and played rough. I’d be worried about him being pushed around or bullied. Now, I’m glad I saw him play that pick-up game, hold his own and have fun. (On a bittersweet note, this affirms that my little boy is growing up ;) )