Column: Making time for good things

Farm Forum

My son has started a new adventure this year. He’s 9 years old and was asked to play on a 3-on-3 basketball team. He was so excited to be asked, but it never dawned on me that there were a few things that I probably needed to teach him.

Of course he has a great coach, and other kids that are at his same level, so I have no doubt that in time they will be an amazing team. And the experience alone is worth its weight in gold.

Yet, as parents, we worry about our children being prepared. I knew it would happen, I just didn’t think it would happen this quickly. I was expecting it to hit closer to when they were starting to learn to drive. You know, when driver’s ed starts the next week, so you think maybe you should spend part of an afternoon explaining to your child how to start a car?

For me it was the realization that I hadn’t ever spent time in the shop shooting hoops with my boys. Why is that? How could I think that I was so busy that I couldn’t take the time to show them how to make a layup? Or work on his jump shot? Or get down his free-throw technique?

It’s not about what it is we do, it’s about taking the time to do it. And I had apparently spent too much time worrying about how busy we were, and not nearly enough time just taking the time to be a mom.

It was a sobering realization, actually.

And so I spent a few evenings, no more than 20-30 minutes at a time, showing him what I could remember from school. We worked on dribbling, passing, proper shooting techniques. It wasn’t rocket science; it was basic ball. And it meant as much to me as it did to him.

Will it make him a better player? Maybe, maybe not. But it definitely made me a better parent. And we learned a few things and made a few memories along the way.

Who could complain about that?

And here are a few extra tips we picked up:

• You can’t play a good game without a friend or two to help. Yes, you can practice all the shots you want, but the best games are those that are shared with others.

• Scoring isn’t always about taking the shot yourself. Sometimes you need to pass the ball and set up someone else for all the glory. It doesn’t matter in the end who was responsible, a team that works together shares in the glory.

• Sometimes you drop the ball, miss the rebound or brick the shot. It happens. One play does not make or break the whole game. No matter what.

• At the end of the game, the scoreboard means little if you don’t show good sportsmanship. It’s just as important to lose gracefully as it is to win gracefully. Life is full of bad examples; perhaps we need to spend a little extra time making sure our children are good examples.

Val Wagner loves raising her four boys on the farm in Dickey County, N.D., along with her husband, Mark. Catch her blog, Wag’n Tales, at, or follow one of their cows on Twitter at Cows_Life. Contact her at