So as it turns out, Sam can play basketball. He spent solid minutes playing basketball in the basement the other day — not hours, of course, because he also had so squeeze in a long nap, several meals and snacks, and tag along with Nate and me to the grocery store. This was the very same basement that played host to my ill-fated game with Nate just a few weeks before. And maybe it’s just because his actions took place on St. Patrick’s Day, a day when Sam was wearing his solid green Nike tracksuit, and therefore resembled Larry Bird, but I couldn’t help concluding that this kid is good. This is our athlete.
Sam’s focus and persistence that day surpassed that of many adults I know. Watching him play, or attempt to play, basketball, I was inspired. Like a young Rudy Ruetigger, he fell, stumbled, tripped, bumbled, wobbled, shuffled, toppled…running out of synonyms here… but you get the picture. And each time, he struggled to get back up, or find the basketball — which was actually a Minnie Mouse playground ball — or lift the basketball, or thrust the ball up into the bottom of the net, he showed just as much character as Sean Astin did in that wonderfully awesome football movie.
At several points towards the beginning of the learning process, he tried to lift the ball up off the ground, but his leg strength or coordination just wasn’t there yet, so he found himself stuck in a down-dog position over top of the ball. He looks like a narcoleptic yogi in the pictures I managed to take on my phone. [Yes, I documented most of this process, but I will not be posting any of those pictures here because I don’t want pictures of Nate and Sam on the internet — and not for the reasons you might think; I just don’t want to incriminate them at such an early age. If the government needs pictures of these two, they can do their own legwork to obtain them.]
Sometimes Sam got off a clean “shot” on the basket, though as he lunged forward with the ball, he’d usually collapse; other times he never even got to that point, and the ball would slip from his little fingers before he could shoot. Or he’d lose his balance as soon as he picked up the ball, toppling to the carpet as the ball slowly rolled away from him and he’d have to start all over.
And you may be asking yourself, “what’s the meaning of this blog?” Or, “what’s the weather supposed to be for tomorrow?” Or, “what’s the meaning of life?” Or, “is there a God?” And, “does He love me?” Well, I can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you what Nate was doing during Sam’s basketball game, which is what I was hoping you were going to inquire about. While Sam worked on his skills, strengthened his quads and hamstrings, wiped the sweat off his toiled brow, and ignored the aches and pains as he strove for greatness, Nate played with his zoo animals. His two giraffes mated and allegedly their relations yielded a baby zebra.
Be forewarned, I’ve seen nothing to back up this claim. When I asked him to describe his reproductive procedures and document any type of DNA proof, he was unable to do so. Actually, the terms “hereditary material” and “double helix” rendered him speechless, which is a real rarity in his little life. I proceeded to show him a Punnett square — as much as I could recall from my 6th grade science class, which isn’t much because my teacher had an infatuation with the late Kevin Costner (wait, he's alive?), so we watched a lot of “Dances With Wolves” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" to learn…um…about the importance of personal hygiene (I think?) — thus demonstrating that zebra offspring is highly unlikely in this situation. Anyway, then Batman came and released all of the animals from their cages until they were mostly eaten by the three lions. So I guess all evidence supporting the existence of a zebra spawned from two giraffes has been destroyed. What a shame. And now I’ll move all of my parental eggs from Nate’s acclaimed scientific discovery basket to Sam’s athletic prowess basket. Go Sam, go!
It doesn’t actually matter to me that Sam failed to put the ball in the basket. And that he failed again. And that he failed yet again. In fact, I don’t think he made a single basket the entire day, even after I lowered the net as low as it could possibly go, at about the level of his forehead. The successes are in the fact that he kept going. He was genuinely mad when I stopped him to feed him lunch. This kid is independent. This kid has a work ethic. He’s industrious. He doesn’t take “no” for an answer. When the laws of physics and anatomy deny him his goals, he works even harder to reach them. He overcomes adversity and shoots for the stars. He also just crapped in his pants.
Nate, meanwhile, in the same window of time, moved from zoo animals to Batman to matchbox cars to soccer to a puzzle to hockey… and the list goes on. He was like a Tazmanian devil in a toy store. Or Cosmo Kramer in one of my favorite Seinfeld openings ever, in which Jerry leaves him alone in his apartment for the afternoon, and through a montage, the audience sees Kramer host a party, re-arrange all the furniture, ride a bicycle, seemingly start a fire in the bedroom, and make other various messes and mayhem. When Jerry returns, Kramer is sleeping serenely on the couch with the apartment perfectly restored to its prior harmonious order, calm and intact, yet Jerry is incensed that he didn’t put his glass on a coaster. My point is that Nate hasn’t quite yet developed the same focus that Sam has. And apparently, neither have I based on the arc of this paragraph. Forgive me, but Seinfeld is just a great show and needs to be referenced whenever appropriate. And even when not appropriate.
I don’t want to compare Nate and Sam — that wouldn’t be fair at all — so I’ll let the numbers do it. Below are some advanced metrics that highlight some of the daily tasks, endeavors, schemes, and accomplishments between the two young boys. Most statistics below are per day. Some are estimates, and others, such as “Crumbs Dropped” and “Miles Travelled” are averages that have been calculated over a month-long period. Enjoy!
3 years, 1 month
1 year, 1 month, 17 days
Breakfast of Champions
3 or 4 Quaker Oatmeal Squares (they’re bite-size)
2 bites of Kellogg’s Nutrigrain bar (strawberry only)
1 waffle with slap of butter and 1/2 cup of maple syrup
1 cinnamon raisin bagel
1 Kellogg’s Nutrigrain bar (flavor does not matter)
1/2 box Honey Nut Cheerios
The rest of Nate’s breakfast
Time Spent Brushing Teeth
Crumbs Dropped to Wally
9-10 (Not so much crumbs as large chunks of food, as in half of a sandwich)
Kisses to Wally
2-3 full on make out sessions
Changes of Clothes per Day
1 (but the shirt, shoes, socks, and sometimes pants are usually removed at lunch time because he likes to avoid getting peanut butter on them)
At least 4 (Greek yogurt, peanut butter and maple syrup stick to everything)
Miles Travelled in a Day
5-6 (this number is higher on days when he “runs” errands or burns off a sugar high by sprinting from room to room on the first floor, yelling “hi, Mom!” each time he passes me)
16,567 (crawled/stumbled; lately he walks like a gunfighter at High Noon)
Minutes Spent in Time Out
Immeasurable (generally, 3 minutes per infraction or each time Sam gets a new bruise)
N/A (too cute)
Number of Toys Played With
4 (drumsticks, my phone, Wally, anything that Nate covets)
Number of Valuables Tossed into Kitchen Trash Can
1 or 2 (usually in the spirit of revenge: Mom puts me in time out, I trash her laptop)
4-6 (usually in the spirit of curiosity, exploration, understanding cause/effect: cell phone in trashcan makes Mom mad)
Number of Books Read
1 (tough for him to sit still, hence he’s still illiterate)
Number of Books Ripped
5-6 (library books only, of course)
Number of “Guys”
At the moment, 13: Monkey, Little Monkey; Dave, Tim/Kevin (2 names?), Stuart, Jerry (all Minions), Batman, Lego Batman, Joker, Lego Joker, Lego Nate, Lego Sam, Lego Wally — These “guys” are carted up and down the stairs each morning, when he goes up for his “rest” hour and at night for bedtime. Because he can’t carry all of his guys, he has a backpack and bucket to assist him.)
4 (the stuffed animals in his crib that he makes out with as he’s placed in his bed for nap/bedtime)
Kitchen Cabinets Emptied
1 (But he empties it at least 3 times a day, usually when I’m in the kitchen trying to make a meal, thus causing me to trip and slip, which is actually kind of nice because I’d hate to get complacent in life — overcoming challenges makes me better.)
1 (The same cabinet that Nate empties, but he politely waits until Nate is finished with the cabinet and I’ve put everything back. When they join forces and empty it together, it’s almost heartwarming. Ah, brothers.)