Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ball boy

Isaiah loves his balls.

Let me rephrase that. Isaiah loves basketballs. We have two basketballs in our house, one a small, bouncy inflatable and another a mini regulation ball. We have a hoop in the house. It's one of those that looks like the real thing, with a net, a post and a clear plastic backboard with the painted square to aim those bank shots.

I love playing with this hoop. Scarcely a day goes by when I don't launch a shot. The hoop is located in the playroom (itself converted from our dining room), and it faces the den, which means I can back up into the den and hoist long-distance 3s. I've never been a long-range marksman, but what really makes the shot difficult is we have a low-hanging light in the playroom, right in the path of most shooting angles to the hoop. A made 3, therefore, needs to be a graceful shot without too much arc (or else it will hit the ceiling) and with enough precision to avoid smacking the hanging light and incurring Michelle's wrath. It's a miracle the light has remained intact, and that the hoop remains in the playroom.

Back to the balls. Nathaniel has not shown more than a passing interest in either basketball. It's more of a stop along his daily rip-roaring tour through his toys. If you can imagine the toys to be like food in a cafeteria line, the basketballs would be something like broccoli and carrots. Yes, he'll put some on his plate every now and then, but they wouldn't be his first choice, not by a long shot. It shows in his shooting as well. When he does interest himself in a basketball, he'll grab it, clutch it in both hands between his legs and fling it in the vaguely general direction of the basket. On a few occasions, the ball has made it through the hoop; however, usually, it's caroming off the ceiling, his toy shelves, the buffet ... or that hanging light.

Isaiah is not shooting buckets, but he's sure more interested in the basketballs. Like with other toys, he approaches the balls with a studious bent. He eyes them carefully, then reaches out, touches it, rolls it slowly. He taps at it. Now that he can crawl, he'll nudge it and watch intently as it rolls away. Sometimes, he gets in a sitting position and grasps the ball with both hands, either slapping at it and smiling or laying his hands on it, like a preacher baptizing a child. His emotion is so Zen-like, it's as if he's trying to decipher the ball's meaning.

He's especially fond when I sit near him and dribble. His little red head will bounce up and down in time with the thump of the ball on the carpet. Then, I'll roll the ball over to him, and he'll clutch it greedily and slap down hard on it with his hands, attempting to mimic the dribbling. When he gets too exuberant and the ball slips out of his grasp, he'll look at the ball and then at me, his face nearly expressionless, as he calculates the next move. "Do I want the ball that badly that I'll crawl over to it? Or can I wait out that big guy there who's sure to fold and get it for me?

Can you guess who usually gets the ball?

1 comment:

Leeann said...

Adorable! I can just imagine it.

It never ceases to amaze me, even after three children of my own and seven nieces and nephews, how individual each child is. Nurture definitely plays a part but Nature rules supreme.