I am a horrible father. I'm impatient. I'm short tempered. I'm selfish. I'm everything that a father should not be and I'm nothing that a father should be. I accepted this fact years ago when Xavier came along. When Luca arrived I thought maybe I'd learned and would be a better father but nope...still the same. Knowing that I was not meant for fatherhood, I wanted to stop there but the wife badgered me into having another one and I gave in because we both wanted a girl so bad; along came Max and here we are. My parenting skills have not gotten any better but I have learned a valuable lesson: I love my kids more than anything in this world. And that means a lot apparently. Sometimes that's all it takes to be a good father I guess. You have good moments and bad moments and everything in between. Basically you just try to do the best you can...but sometimes you do something really right and it makes it all worthwhile. If you're lucky, you see it happen and when you do it makes all the bullshit you deal with worth it. Tonight was just such a night for me...
So Luca is my sporty guy. He's an outstanding soccer player which makes me proud as soccer has always been my sport. But as he gets older, he is branching out into other sports. He is planning on playing flag football this summer, he's asked me if he can play baseball this year and he is currently playing CYS basketball. He has never played before but that didn't stop him. He excitedly asked if I could sign him up and of course I did so in a heartbeat because I am 100% in favor of ANYTHING that gets my kids away from their tablets and sports, to me, are the absolute best thing a kid can do. I played all the major spots growing up - baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey on the frozen ponds, football, I did it all, and I've been hoping my kids would follow in my footsteps. I've accepted by now that this will never happen but I'll take anything I can get. And so I'm thrilled that Luca is so interested in sports. THRILLED. But when it comes to Basketball, Luca is raw. Very raw. He goes to practice twice a week but with all the other kids, he only gets so much instruction and practice. And so a couple weeks ago, I took him to the gym on a Saturday and practiced with him, worked with him on his dribbling and shooting. That week he was decidedly the best player on the court as his team won their first game and he scored two baskets. The following week he played ok but he had several chances where he stole the ball and ran for what should have been an easy layup but he went too fast and lost control or threw up a brick.
And so, without even realizing it, I decided to be a father.
I took all three kids to the gym last Sunday and we had fun shooting hoops and such but I worked with Luca specifically on his layups. I put him through several drills to help him. At one point, I made him run full speed at the basket for a layup. I made him do it until he was tired but I didn't push him too hard. I could see him getting better better with each turn.
Tonight was his 4th game of the year and his team lost by two points. But during the course of the game, he scored 6 points, all of them on layups. He had three breakaways and he scored on all of them - all of them on layups, exactly like we practiced them. I could not be prouder of him. I sat there and watched him and saw him do everything that I had practiced with him, exactly as I tried to teach him. And he did it. HE DID IT.
When the game was over, he didn't care that his team had lost, all he cared about was that he had finally learned how to make a layup and he was just so proud that he'd done it in the game, that he'd scored six points. When we were walking out, he hugged me and thanked me for helping him. I didn't realize it at that moment but that's what it's all about. Teaching my kids. Being hard on them for their own good. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't.
Tonight it paid off.