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Liam is in third grade. He is a study in contrasts. Talking to adults is difficult for him. He looks down, heat rushes to his cheeks, answers are mumbled. His first years in school were difficult. He didn’t speak much, if at all, in class. I clearly remember celebrating with his teacher in second grade when she had to tell he and a friend to be quiet in class.
With his friends, he is loud. He loves to play, run, imagine. He tends to be a follower, I’m guessing leading is too much in the spotlight. But his growth over the years has been apparent to us all.
This fall Liam mentioned that he wanted to join the local YMCA’s basketball league like he had the previous year. Sure, we thought. It was a bit of a step-up for him from the second grade team, but he loves shooting baskets at home, so why not. Liam loved the seven weeks, but we were often left watching with amused expressions. He would guard on offense instead of defense. If given the ball, he looked to see how quickly he could pass it to someone else like a game of hot potato. However, he had fun, which was our goal.
A few weeks ago he mentioned in passing that the spring league was starting up at the Y and could he join. I’ll admit, my first thought was not positive. Luke’s travel league had just finished and I was looking at free weekends for the first time since July. But, we of course agreed.
Both teams – fall and spring – have been made up of other kids from our town. They are great kids that Liam is friends with. I think this helps him a lot on the court. Last week’s game was a marked improvement from the fall. I smiled watching, thinking how much these kids had grown. Liam knew the difference between defense and offense. While still looking a bit nervous when he would get the ball, he would wait longer before passing, even looking at the basket a few times.
Yesterday we headed over and Liam was already pumped. He had hung out with his cousin the night before and had a sleepover to go to after the game. I reminded him before the game that my goal each and every time is to have fun. He grinned and took off with his friends.
I don’t know what happened to their team, but they were on fire. The kids worked together – shouting out who to pass it to, finding the open man, and at one point they even completed a pretty amazing play. Liam shot about five baskets with one that actually went in. He was beaming, but his friends were cheering just as loudly. Later, Liam told me that the kids had decided everyone on the team should make at least one basket during their game and they were working together to make sure that happened. How cool!
He had a bit of a swagger to his walk as we left the gym. His chatter was nonstop. And as I watched him talk to his coach, a few parents, and then high five with his friends, I had to wonder where my shy little boy had gone. Then, he ran over to me, smiled, hugged me and I saw him there – and so much more.