Sunday, March 19, 2006

We are The Champions!

If you have a weak stomach when it comes to parents bragging about their children's accomplishments, you should stop reading right now and go check in on other blogs you like to peruse. You have been warned!

I have written a lot about my daughter, Kristiana, but very little about my son, Daniel. That is the case primarily because he doesn't like when I talk about him, even if I say good things. Fortunately for me, he doesn't read my blog. (Kristiana, if you are reading this, please don't tell him!) I love my son dearly, and I wish he would grant me permission to speak as freely about him as I do about Kristiana. Anyway, here goes.

Daniel says and does many amazing, funny, insightful, and downright brainy things around here. Here's an example. At the moment, we are blessed to have the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls on display here in Charlotte. We are planning to go see them in a couple of weeks, so I've talked a lot about them and their significance to us as followers of Christ and avid readers of the Bible. Yesterday, Daniel found a smooth piece of bark outside on the driveway, brought it inside, signed it, asked all of us to sign in, and said he was going to try to preserve it in some way. Why? Because these were the "Dead Tree Scrolls."

This boy does two digit multiplication in his head in a matter of seconds: 45 x 19 in his head! He can listen to a word, a sentence, and sometimes two or three sentences in a row and tell you how many letters were in the words of the passage he heard. Once he claimed to have added up the letters in an entire sermon given by our pastor. Of course, there's no way for us to verify that, but I give him credit for even attempting such a feat. I'm convinced he has something of a photographic memory. But don't take my word for it; I have friends from our time in Connecticut who will attest to the fact that he used to spell words backwards at the ripe age of four years old. The letters of words like "sovereign, worship, Norwalk" and of course all the letters in his own name, rolled off his tongue like he was reading them from a blackboard - backwards.

Along with the eerie mind games he plays, my son is also quite the busy little athlete. Three weeks ago, his regular basketball season ended when the Olde Providence (OP) Heat team won a closely contested game against the OP Raptors for the "8 and under" championship. (He's actually 9 years old, but his birthdate placed him in the lower age bracket.) The toughest part about winning that game was that three of the boys - triplets! - on the opposing team had been on Daniel's undefeated football team during his first (and last) season playing tackle football this past fall. Following that Heat championship, Daniel was invited to join the OP All-Star team to compete against other all-star teams from nearby leagues. Just about the same time, he began to play for an AAU basketball team called the Charlotte Royals. This weekend both the All-Star team and the AAU team had tournaments. He competed in six basketball games! His two teams won all six of the games he played in.

But thanks be to God: the two-team insanity ended this afternoon when his OP All Star team won the championship. There were 6.9 seconds left in the game, and his team was leading by one point. The other team inbounded the ball to one of their best players who dribbled around the defense, launched a shot that bounced off the rim, and one of Daniel's teammates grabbed the rebound and held on for dear life!

Where was my son at the time? Unfortunately, he was on the bench because he fouled out with 8 of his team's 19 points when there were only 58 or 59 seconds on the clock. It was one of those games that I don't usually stick around for the end of because my blood pressure goes through the roof, I start sweating, and Steve is more nervous that I'm gonna curse at one of the refs than he is about the outcome of the event. In my own defense, I am a rowdy, vocal, but always respectful fan. I scream, but only in support of my children's teams or when the ref makes an obviously, blatantly stupid call - which happens more than one would expect. Anyway, back to today's game...

When Daniel's teammate Ross grabbed that last rebound, I leaped to my feet and started screaming, "Just hold it. Hold it. Hold it." As the referees blew their whistle for a jump ball, the buzzer sounded! Yeah!!! We won. We won. They won. I was thrilled.

Six games of basketball. In three different gyms here in Charlotte. After his third game yesterday, he and Steve left the school out near the airport and made their way home, both exhausted by the length of the day, both looking forward to a good night's sleep. (At the time, Kristiana and I were at the fifteen year birthday celebration of the daughter of two dear friends of ours. The quinceanera party in the latino culture is as highly anticipated as the bar or bat mitzvah in the Jewish community.) As it turns out, they left the gym before the real excitement started. A crazed Charlottean, as residents of Charlotte are called, stood outside the building brandishing a gun; on the news, I'm sure they reported it as "a lone gunman." None of the people I spoke to about the incident today knew of any demands, any assaults, or even threats he'd made; they were too busy protecting themselves and their loved ones inside the gym for half an hour until the police arrived and took him away.

Yes, you read it correctly: half an hour. Between the 20 minute wait for the police last Tuesday night when we reported having found an abandoned child and this 30 minute wait for the police when a man was wielding a lethal weapon outside a gym filled with two or three hundred people, one wonders, I wonder, what it takes to get quick police action in this city. Don't get me wrong; I honor, respect, and admire police officers. My oldest brother, Otis, was a police officer in NYC for fifteen years. Cops have voluntarily taken on the monumental, dangerous, and mostly thankless task of law enforcement. But the events of this week have raised a lot of questions... Maybe I'll call Otis and ask for his opinion on these events.

Anyway, ultimately, fortunately, all was well. All is well. No one was hurt. The deranged man (he'd have to be deranged to endanger the lives of so many innocent children and their relatives for no apparent reason) was carted away.

As I sit here writing this blog, Daniel is lying in his bed sound asleep. His sore right ankle is wrapped in a bandage. His second basketball championship medal of the year is lying on the top shelf of his headboard - as visions of multiplication problems dance in his head. I love my sweet, funny, handsome, exhausting, and exhausted boy more than he will ever know!

We are the Champions!

PS. I told Daniel about the blog this morning (Monday, the 20th) and sat with him while he read it. Smiles. Laughter. "I can't believe you told them that I fouled out... I scored ten points, not eight...My ankle was swollen like a piece of meat, so add that." He hadn't heard about the ordeal with the gunman, so I had to explain that. "Why would someone do that?" When I asked him to give me the answer to 45x19, he said, 855. I asked how he did it. He said, "I multiplied 45 by 20, then subtracted 45." Amazing. Overall, he was pleased by the blog, and I'm happy when he's happy.

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