A basket full of memories

I found a basket of memories yesterday, and I sat on the closet floor and enjoyed them for a while.

Time stood still, and then pleasantly rolled backwards as I sifted through sports buttons from all those frantic years of active parenting.

All four of my kids played on teams with varying degrees of talent and intensity. I recall laid-back soccer seasons during which I simply strolled across the street to watch games in the park and the most exciting thing we cheered was the extraction of our six-year old neighbor, who had twirled himself into an impressive net entanglement.

I noted my daughter Katherine’s perfectly coiffed hair in each of her sports buttons and chuckled when I remembered that we had asked her to choose at least one sport in high school and Katherine, a theatre kid from birth, chose golf, “because you don’t have to sweat and the season ends before try-outs for the fall play begins.”

I found 15 different football buttons, no surprise given our family’s love of that sport. In fact, I’m sure I am missing a few. I can trace our family’s experience from chubby cheeks to chiseled and each button tells a whole chapter book story of triumph and tears.

We had Pizza King on speed dial during my sons’ high school football runs, hosted Wednesday night film sessions for the offensive linemen, and routinely called in our Friday night orders from the high school parking lot as we waited for our exhausted and hungry athletes to make their way to the car.

Here’s what I believe those years taught all of our kids:

  1. You have to try. My kids didn’t always win and, occasionally, they didn’t even make the team. But, I think they all learned the value of honest effort. I still tell them to “sprint to the finish” of various projects and, thanks to the sports they played, they know exactly what I mean.
  2. Don’t quit. They’ve played through rain, snow, nagging injury and general frustration. But they always kept moving forward. I thought a blustery wind would blow our daughter right off the track during an unseasonably snowy middle school track meet, but she kept her head up, her feet moving and eventually she crossed the finish line. It’s an image and a life lesson I hope they all remember.
  3. Respect your teammates. Football is an excellent example of this because you need all 11 players to work together or you’re not going to get anything done. I like the diversity of culture, economics, abilities and interests good teams attract and how you might not agree with the player next to you’s taste in music, but you still admire his or her jump off the ball.
  4. Listen to your coach. Our kids enjoyed excellent coaches through the years, but they each experienced a clunker or two along the way as well. In the case of the excellent coaches, they listened, learned and became better players and people for the experience. In the case of the clunkers, they listened, and addressed any specific issue with them privately. Even then they learned valuable lessons in how to maintain your dignity and stand up for your beliefs.
  5. Have fun. If you can’t find the joy in your sport, you shouldn’t be playing it.

I’m not very crafty, but I’m planning to turn all of those buttons into ornaments this year, and I’m looking forward to the family stories they inspire.

My favorite Molly button is from her years of flag football. But, I also like the one in the lower right hand corner, where she’s missing a tooth and squinting. She had great T-ball coaches that season…me and my friend Suzanne.
Katherine’s hair makes me laugh in these photos because it is perfectly blown out. She enjoyed the golf team “They call me Chipper”, but my favorite picture of her is the one in the band uniform (lower left corner). Katherine swooned during her first high school parade and had to be revived by her friend. This is especially funny because the parade had not even started yet. I told her she was born in the wrong century and should probably carry smelling salts henceforth.
Charlie played two years of college football and then discovered the joys of being a college football fan. His dad was his first football coach and his grandma his most loyal fan. We loved watching Charlie develop as an athlete, once he grew into his size 17 feet.
Vinnie played football all out. HIs freshman year, he played offense, defense and special teams. During his senior year, he blocked a punt with his face. “Didn’t that hurt?” I asked him after the game. “Kind of,” he said.


3 thoughts on “A basket full of memories

  1. Your tree will have beautiful ornaments, so full of memories. And I agree with all the points you selected since being in a team teaches you self discipline, the importance of practicing, and. -above all- the value of team work. Thanks!

  2. Love this Laura. Sportsmanship is such an important concept for kids to learn. This, (long ago retired), physical education teacher always believed that the most important piece of a P.E. program was teaching students that losing gracefully while trying your best, is equally or more important than winning. Also love your idea of making Christmas ornaments out of those buttons! Hmmmm….I think I’ll go through a few baskets and boxes too! 🙂

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