March Madness is an exciting time in my house as my husband and kids enjoy following the 64 college basketball teams (now 16) play to stay alive for another round in the NCAA tournament. As soon as the teams were announced on Selection Sunday, bracket analysis started and the process of predicting who would advance to the next round began. The friendly competition among my family and their peers is now in full swing and will most certainly last until April 4th when the championship game is played.
For me, one of the coolest aspects of this has been watching my kids become increasingly interested in the games with every passing year. I get a kick out of hearing the friendly banter with each other and their friends at school, as well as with the teachers who step away from their everyday lesson format so that they can incorporate hoops into their classroom learning.
This year was different in that my pre-teen decided to initiate a bracket with his friends, something he had never done before. He texted a few dozen kids asking if they wanted to participate – most replied yes. He navigated questions from those who had no clue what the NCAA tournament was, taught some how to sign up on-line via Face Time and navigated pushback from a few who wanted this to be an all-boys competition. With little contemplation, my son explained that he invited his friends to join – including girls – and that he was not interested in disinviting them.
The unintentional reminder about the benefits of me stepping-back and allowing my son the chance to take on age-appropriate tasks that foster independence and personal growth has been a positive experience. He also shared his happiness with my lack of involvement, beyond observing and providing support. After initially thinking, “Ouch, that hurt,” I realized that this comment represented his budding independence and I felt better.
As the NCAA tournament heats up and the excitement builds, my focus has been sidetracked to this small group of pre-teens sharing in this friendly tournament competition. I also appreciate the reminder about watching my son do things on his own while thoroughly enjoying the way in which he has been sharing some basketball fun with his friends during this year’s March Madness.