Sunday, April 1, 2007
In the Blink of an Eye
I actually wrote this one in 2002 and my son is now older and in the army with all the fears that brings to a parent. So enjoy the following and please comment if you care to.
I don’t know what it is about getting older that makes you look back on times gone by. Maybe it’s just that a change of career or a close family member reaching a milestone or an anniversary of some event, makes you reflect. Taking on this job has made me remember some of the things that used to be.
In 1971 I played my first game of basketball, under 13’s in what was then the Eastern District Junior Basketball Association. Nunawading Stadium was brand new and had two courts but I rarely had games there in those early days playing “D” grade. More likely than not we were in school halls like that which used to be Ferntree Gully Tech – low ceilings, three-quarter size, multi-lined and usually with a stage up one end. In those days you could drive up Burwood Road through the orchards and not hit a set of traffic lights beyond Springvale Road. I never learnt how to do lay-ups properly because the church hall we trained in had the backboard fixed to a solid brick wall.
Dad worked two jobs so wasn’t around on Saturday’s to drive me to the games. Mum also worked full time during the week and with no late night Friday shopping and shops closing at Noon on Saturday, she did the shopping Saturday mornings. So when we didn’t play at Nunawading [which I could walk to] I relied heavily on my coach or the parents of other kids to take me to my games. It wasn’t that Mum and Dad weren’t interested, just that there were other things that needed to be done. I didn’t realise it at the time but I owe those other people a lot.
In those days, shorts were short, there was no such thing as a sports drink, numbers on singlets were plastic, most players wore Dunlop volleys or Adidas Rome on their feet, there were no National Leagues or Junior Rep, the talented kids played at the Mecca of basketball at Albert Park on Friday night. In 1971, Michael Jordan was 8 years old, Andrew Gaze was 6 years old, man was still walking on the moon, the Holden Monaro was three years old, we still got free milk at school, the postman came twice a day on a red push bike and blew his whistle when he left mail. There was no such thing as a “High-5”, or a slam-dunk. There was no three-point line. Basketball was for kids who didn’t play footy or cricket.
At the end of the game each team gathered in a huddle and gave three cheers for the opposition. When you drew a foul you signalled it to the bench by putting your hand up. If a ball went out of court and you knew you were the last to touch it, you gave it to the opposition. But the game has moved on, mostly for the better.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I started to play.
It also doesn’t seem like 12 years since my oldest son started to play – now he’s 6’2”, 18 and came home a couple of weeks ago sporting a tattoo. All that seems to have happened in the blink of an eye. There were times when I’ve thought I can’t be bothered coaching, or driving him around, or going to watch his game or that of my other kids, then I remember the parents who took me to my games, and the coaches who gave up their time for me, and I realise how important it is to support my own kids.
In my eyes, I don’t seem any older, it just feels like my kids are catching up. The next time you think you might stay home, or let someone else take the responsibility for ferrying your kids around, remember how much can change in the blink of an eye.