July 22, 2020

Now that's a happy birthday

Reg turned 14 on January 9th.  (Yes, that was a while ago - bear with me as I have a few upcoming Reggie anecdotes and I feel the need to bring you up to speed).  

After school back in January, he had a basketball game at his junior high.  His team was playing the other junior high in our town, so kind of a cross-town rival thing that we didn't have a prayer of winning.  Reg knew other kids playing on the opposing team from the area.  

Reg doesn't have a phone yet but he later told me that the kids from the opposing team were snap-chatting his teammates and talking trash.  One message said:  We are going to destroy you.  You have no one.  

Reg's teammate messaged back:  Oh yeah, we have Reggie Shenanigan!  

I am glad I didn't know about this exchange until AFTER the game.  I think it would have made me feel pressure. 

When Ed was in 8th grade, he had many athletic classmates - focused on basketball.  His team won most, if not all, of their games.  It was very exciting.  

Tank played basketball in grade school too, and two years in high school.  Unlike Reg and Ed (my sons who I apparently cloned from one another), Tank could not be bothered to spend hours on the driveway improving his game.  He was a bench-warmer in grade school, and it burned me up.  Not the NBA - let the kids play, damn it.  I felt the same way when Ed was a starter on a winning team, one of his buddies sat on the bench and almost NEVER played in the game.  Pure garbage.  I would have been fine with Ed sitting more often so everyone got to see some playing time.  

Reg's 8th grade team is the total opposite of Ed's.  There aren't many kids on the team who are into basketball.    
This is not a photo from 'THE
GAME' but Reg is wearing
 the white shirt guarding
 the guy with the ball. 

DIGRESSION:  (you've been warned) Weeks after Reg's birthday game (the point of this post), my dad wanted to attend my nephew's Alan's school basketball game.  Dad had been chauffeuring Reg to travel practices - probably out of guilt.  He had begged my brother, Mike, the travel coach to put the two cousins on the same travel team.  The practices were far from my house, but close to Mike's so Dad, who lives around the corner from me, agreed to drive Reg when Coach worked late.  That was huge.  

So, Dad wanted to pick Reg up earlier than normal on their way to the travel practice so they could watch  Alan's game AT HIS CATHOLIC SCHOOL.  

Me:  Well, Dad, Reg has a game after school at his PUBLIC SCHOOL just a few houses away from your home.  

Ya follow?  

My dad decided to attend Reg's game (first time, season almost over) so they could then bolt to Alan's IMPORTANT game.   (There are lots of family members mentioned here, raise your hand if you're lost.  I feel like I should draw a picture).  

Dad got to Reg's game before me and was sitting in the front row of the bleachers.  I climbed up to the top of the bleachers to find a seat.  At half time, Dad started climbing the bleachers.  

Nervous me:  "Dad, just stay put.  You don't need to climb up here."

Dad:  "I just want to ask you if they really don't have another kid who can play basketball in this entire school besides Reg?"

Me waving hands wildly to attract the manner police:  Can we get a filter over here in the front row of the bleachers, PLEASE?  

I shook my head at my dad.  "Hey, we are sitting here surrounded by the parents of the other players on the team, Dad," I whispered loudly.  Fortunately I don't think the other parents heard or if they did, they didn't care.  

Dad:  Swatting a hand at me, "I don't care."  Shock.  

I guess I should be grateful that in the 11th hour my dad a) went to my kid's game, and b) recognized that my kid is a great basketball player.  

***After the travel season, my brother, Mike, texted Coach to say that he always wished one of his kids was as athletic as Reg.  This was quite a compliment.  Reg had a blast on Mike's team.  Great teammates.  Great coaching.  Reg and Alan are great pals and watching them play together was fun.  

After growing up in a family where my brothers' athleticism was CONSTANTLY PRAISED, I must admit that it is quite sweet that my boys AND my girls are more athletic than any of my brothers' boys or girls (they each have two boys, plus two girls/one girl). But Dad's focus is still Alan's games, not Reg's.  Also, Dad never attended one of Lad's division 1 water polo games.  This is where as a fan I would yell 'scoreboard, scoreboard!'

Now the point of the post:  We had no hope of winning the game that this post is really about:  Reg's 14th birthday game.   

Ed was still home from college.  He helped me get to the gym with the two babies who had yet to be picked up after school.  He fed one a bottle in the front row of the bleachers, and I fed the other one a bottle standing off to the side.  

Side note #1:  Earlier during Christmas break, Lad and Ed went to watch Reg play basketball in a travel game.  Poor Reg.  He felt lots of pressure to perform in front of his college brothers.  His travel team faced off against a superior team, and Reg didn't play his best.  He was in tears by the time his brothers drove him home.  He had no other travel games on the schedule while they were both home.

Side note #2:  You know how certain classes of kids have their own flavor?  A weird mix?  Some classes super social and inclusive?  Some super athletic?  Some full of mean kids?  

Lad's class was full of mean kids, that I have previously described.

Ed had an amazing group of kids in his grade.  Tank had a few close buddies.

Reg's class is not overly athletic.  There are a few kids that are the center of his group.  One is just a jerk who thinks he is hot shit.  Another, a creep.  The rest mostly followers.  Reg doesn't really gel with them.  They talk about their sleepover at the lunch table in front of Reg when he wasn't invited.  They all have phones.  We don't get our kids phones till high school.  Ah, high school.  I cannot wait for Reg to attend high school with new potential friendships.  

THE GAME:  (ah, the point at last) So our team was losing.  By close to 20 at the half.  Reg made a couple of three pointers.  He got a few steals (his specialty).  We started closing the gap.  

Also not a photo from the game.  Reg
is behind the kid in black.
With a few minutes left in the game, they fouled Reg.  He hit both free throws.  They fouled him again.  I think it was a 3 pointer and he had 3 shots.  Then the kid on the other team who fouled him threw a chair on the sidelines and they called a technical foul.  Reg made 4 free throws in a row.  The place went wild.  

I stood there next to the bleachers and could barely breathe.  I was swaying back and forth even though I had put the baby in his carrier.  I was SO emotional - wiping tears off my face.  Ed rubber necked from his front-row, baby-holding seat to find me in my corner.  His face was lit up like the scoreboard.  I just shrugged at him and smiled.  I was like, "Holy shit, Ed - holy shit!"

My Mom was at this game.  She doesn't drive in winter, but she had walked.  That's how close they live.  Her face was BEAT RED.  

During a timeout, I noticed that the baby's mom had texted me to say she was at Reg's school to claim her kid.  I texted her back with shaking hands.  "Close game.  I will come out with the baby in a few minutes."

A teacher working the concessions patted my arm.  I turned to him and whispered in an emotionally squeaky voice:  IT'S HIS BIRTHDAY!

We were in the lead by a point with seconds left.  Their ball.  Ahhh.

They turned the ball over.   Reg got the ball.  He either made a basket or got fouled again and made those baskets.  I don't remember.  I just know that he was on fire from the line after driving to the hoop and drawing foul after foul.   The crowd was going NUTS!  

The buzzer went off.  Game over.  I started to grab the carrier to take the baby out to his mom.  She was standing next to me.  I hadn't even seen her.  She was like, "Oh my gosh, Ernie!"  Her eyes were all teary too.   

So often I grab the video camera and video the kids' games.  I didn't have the video camera.  Just a bottle, a baby, a stroller, etc.  I wish we had a recording of the game, but regardless I will never forget.



Beth Cotell said...

WOW!!!!!! What a wonderful birthday for him! And what a great memory for you!!!

Kara said...

If this was a movie, it would be the perfect ending. Congratulations! And very late happy birthday!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love this so much!! As a (college) basketball fan, I could feel your tension/excitment! Woot woot-what a fabulous birthday for Reg!

Anonymous said...

The voice reading in my head was going faster and getting louder and more excited there at the end, feeling those emotions. How exciting! Happy Birthday Reggie!! Also glad your parents are recognizing and acknowledging his skills.

Kari said...

That's an awesome birthday present!!

Ernie said...

Beth - Yes, it was spectacular. I still cannot believe we won after being down 20 some points. Super exciting!

Kara - Ha, thanks. No joke - it WOULD have been a great ending to a movie. Our family loves those kinds of movies. Shock.

Suz - Sometimes people ask me if I am a fan of this team or that team, my response is always, "I am a fan of whatever team my kids are playing on." That fan-job keeps me busy and the excitement level sometimes exhausts me. My mom called me later to say that her face was still beet red. We do not really create a lot of hype around birthdays, so it was super nice that this was built in.

Anonymous - My expectations were SO low. We didn't stand a chance. Holy cow, out of nowhere we pulled it off. The bleachers were packed and as much as Reg flies under the radar socially, he totally shone in that game.

Kari - Of course I took that momentum and decided to make cookies after the game to deliver to his travel b-ball practice at pick up, but we didn't have enough flour and Ed had no extra car because I still had to drive to dancing. The kid Tank drives to volleyball ran into his house and grabbed flour when Tank got him for practice - they dropped it off at our house on their way to volleyball and Mini and Ed finished the cookies while I drove to dancing and then raced home to get the warm cookies and whisk them over to Coach at work who was picking Reg up a few minutes later.

Lesson here: one shining moment is enough for one birthday. No need to over-do it. ;)

Nicole MacPherson said...

What a great birthday!

Ernie said...

Nicole - You got that right. Quite the birthday wish come true.

Bibliomama said...

I can totally relate to the don-t-have-a-chance wait-what holy-crap game, and how awesome that it was his birthday. It's nice to have video evidence, but it's also nice to just be in the moment sometimes.

Ernie said...

Ali - So true. I will always remember the game, and the look from Eddie (as he was feeding a baby a bottle) was awesome. Just a little wacky with the babies there. I have not made it to EVERY game and since Coach was at work, I am super grateful that I was there for this one.