Life is about pace. Or is it? I dunno. I’m currently involved in my daughter’s life as a basketball parent. What you say? I know it’s hard for me even to imagine. All my friends know I was destined for the NBA, so what if my body turned to goo and I couldn’t jump over a toothpick. Maybe I’m living my dreams through my basketball-playing prodigy.
In any case I take my daughter to practice where she shoots, jumps, runs, swishes, grunts and postures just like I used to. While there I often talk to the other basketball parents. They are a mixture of folks, all absorbed in their kids and at the same time juggling time and life within the parameters of a 24-hour day. At times it can be a furious pace.
For instance some kids have music lessons, some have swimming team commitments, some have elementary school teams to play for and some have homework. What gives? Simply put we parents sign our kids up for this stuff. It surely might have something to do with growing up without it.
In my own case I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for young people growing up in my rural community. I didn’t have the same opportunity. In fact, after a 35-year career of playing basketball I learned how to shoot a basketball a mere couple of months ago. I listened intently as a fabulous coach actually showed young kids the right way to shoot a basketball. All of those years when I played, I just looked on the TV or the guy beside me who couldn’t shoot either. You do the best you can.
Sitting watching practice with the other parents is a bit like a lesson in sociology. Slowly over time everybody gets introduced and we get used to each other. Of course I get the proverbial question, “what do you do?” I rhyme off about three and a half magazines, newspapers, market services; radio commentary, commodity futures commentary and I throw in 830 acres to farm. Somebody says, man you must be busy. This is from people who are so busy they can hardly catch their breath.
If you think about it a little bit our busy lives are tied together by technology. In my own case I think you all know. I use computers so heavily their processors are constantly screaming for mercy. It gives me the capacity to publish, podcast and broadcast my work regionally and all over the world on the Internet. At the same time cell phones and email tie together our little basketball team so parents know where a tournament is, what time and who will be there. At the same time the team manager looks for immediate feedback from email sent only moments earlier. It’s the age of immediate gratification, just quicken up the pace.
To say this is true of everybody would be very, very wrong. Yes, this type of modern behaviour is surely based on income level. There are surely lots of kids left in Canada who live in poverty, don’t know how to shoot a basketball and could only dream about a pace of life, which would keep them so active. For those of us caught in this fast paced life where our children enjoy privilege, we should never forget those in our society who don’t.
A couple of weeks ago we traveled to Markham to participate in a grade 7 girl’s basketball tournament. It was new for my family and me as we had never been involved in anything like that. I like to say it’s not quite the NBA but its close. Markham was like going to another planet. It’s the richest place in Ontario and one of the newest. There were new homes and schools everywhere. What once were cornfields in my youth now was a land surrounded by concrete infrastructure. Markham’s world was a million miles an hour.
At one point in the weekend we found ourselves within the halls of Bur Oak Secondary School in Markham. It was Sunday morning so the halls were filled with the Christian music from Markham’s large Asian Christian congregations. We were waiting for the other parents, players, opposing team etc to come flying into the building. The only problem was nobody came except for two referees, a small smattering of players we didn’t’ know and the opposing coach I’d seen the previous day. A few weird uncomfortable looks later, the opposing coach through her cell phone found out we were at the wrong school. The game was actually at another new school 2 kilometres down the road. Out we go opposing coach, two referees and my family in tow as fast as we could to make it for tip off at the other new school.
Thank goodness for technology again. Everybody arrived and it was like nothing ever happened. The girls played well, and after a brief post game meeting, it was four hours home. After that it was get the homework out and grab my computer by the neck, yet again. Yes, life is about pace. Finding the right pace is the real challenge.