Where I come from, big girls serve one purpose in primary school: To play on the basketball team. My height and weight made me the best player in the under 10 league. But it’s easy to crush your opponents when, if given half the chance, you literally could crush them.
I would drag myself up and down the court, and when the time came, I’d simply shoot the ball into the hoop that stood eye-level to me. It wasn’t hard. But don’t interpret this to mean that I was actually any good. I spent most of the game trying to see if my mum and dad were watching me. Ironically, it was more important that they approved of my performance, than whether or not I was actually any good.
As I progressed up through the ranks, it became clear that my head wasn’t really in the game. Loath to admit this to either myself or my parents, I kept playing. It was around this time that I developed the nervous habit of tugging at my bloomers when on the court.
As a form of cruel and unusual punishment, the girls basketball team was not allowed the comfort of shorts like the boys team was. No, we had to wear giant armpit-high navy blue bloomers. I would pull and adjust them, aware that as the other girls caught up to me height wise, I would be revealed as the fraud I was.
My habit got a little out of control. One day, as Mum was walking me out to the car after a game, she asked if everything was okay “down there.” I was 9 and had no idea what she was talking about. It had never occurred to me that as I was fi ddling around with my giant underpants-like uniform, concerned basketball mums were asking my mother if I’d been to the doctor recently.
All I knew was that my nervous twitch had been revealed to me. Not one to let a good thing go, I promptly ditched the bloomer rearranging and took up skipping instead. I realized that adding a few skips between every running stride gave me some much-needed air as well as a slight speed boost.
The few benefits of my run-skip-run technique were negated entirely when I ditched running all together and proceeded to skip gaily up and down the court. If my parents were ever embarrassed by my on-court antics, they never showed it. I, on the other hand, am humiliated that I would have ever done such a thing. If I was my own parent, I would’ve smacked myself over the head and told myself to play basketball properly like all the other uncoordinated, training bra-wearing little girls.
Extracurriculars are not just about the children who do them, they’re about the parents as well. When kids know their dads saw their fi rst three-point shot, or their moms watched as they won their fi rst track medal, they feel so much pride: pride in themselves for doing it, and pride in the knowledge that they made their parents smile. So, in true back-to-school fashion, this month’s feature is all about ways for kids to try a new sport, and volunteer their time. We also ask students how extracurriculars helped them in the long run.
As for my basketball playing, I ditched all sports by the time I was 13 and took up writing instead. And last time I checked, my Mum and Dad are still proud of me.
Dear readers: This is my last editor’s note at the healm of beijingkids. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.
This article is excerpted from beijingkids August 2011 issue. View it in PDF form here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where you can pick up your free copy.