Parenting’s Second Half

We’re in the second half of parenting. All of our kids are double-digits, a couple of them already well into the teenage years. Next month, my youngest will be double-same-digits. (That particular term is derived from a bit of lore in our house… When Sam was turning 11, I said to him, “Aren’t you excited?! You’re going to be double-digits!!” With a dramatic eye roll, he replied, “Mom, I’ve been double-digits for a year already.” And in a feeble attempt to save face, I said, “Yes, but now you’re going to be double-SAME-digits.” Since then, eleven has been a cause for both celebration and ridicule around here.)

The point is that our kids are getting older. They didn’t ask permission, but they’re doing it anyway.

I’d barely mastered the simultaneous diaper-changing and butt-wiping, and then they all went and grew up on me.

The second half of parenting feels a lot like the second half of a basketball game. It seems like it matters a wee bit more. You’ve already gathered in the locker room for half-time, you’ve had the pep talk, you’ve come up with a game plan. The looming truth remains: you can lead by two points until the very last second, but if your opponents hit that three point buzzer beater, they go home with the trophy.

As a sophomore, I was the 6th man on my high school girls’ basketball team. My fellow bench buddies and I used to say, “It doesn’t matter who starts the game… it’s who finishes it.”

But I’m still shooting the occasional air ball and dribbling off my foot. I’ve yet to play a perfect game.

Here’s the best I can hope and prepare and strive for…

1. That we all continue to play as a team.

2. That I choose to bench those players who are out of line.

3. That we all contribute to the game with our unique skills. Are you the clutch free-throw shooter? The sticky defensive genius? Do your thing — whatever it is.

4. That we play with grace and fortitude and good sportsmanship.

5. That no one drops the F-bomb on national TV or throws a chair across the court.

6. That when we drive home from the game, we drive safely, we don’t drink and get behind the wheel, we turn our assignments in on time, we don’t lie about whether or not we’ve done our homework, we don’t call our siblings stupid idiots, we refrain from sending sex-laden texts to our friends, we’re kind to our everyone who crosses our path, we don’t pass judgment, we make our beds and change our underwear on a regular basis, we don’t pretend we know it all, and we don’t talk back to our mothers.

(Oh, wait — perhaps I strayed a little from the basketball analogy there.)

Whether it’s basketball or it’s life, the joy is in the game, the camaraderie, the lessons gleaned, the relationships made.

We’re gonna cut the nets down after this one.

I just know it.

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