Those Shots Are Money

“I should have never given in the first time.”


Has every parent uttered, or merely thought, those words at some point? I think, for the most part, I know when to tell Grace and Zach no, though my wonderful wife would point out at least one or two instances when this hasn’t exactly been the case. (It’s likely a good thing she doesn’t have a blog that appears in this paper.) Still, I probably shouldn’t have promised both of our children a relatively small amount of money if they each were able to make seemingly ultra-difficult shots on the basketball court.


I remember first being victimized several months back in the middle school gym. I was shooting hoops with the Z-Man, and he asked me how much money I would give him if I made a backwards shot from somewhere around the free-throw line. Even though the rim was not at regulation height, I assumed he had little or no chance at managing such a feat — especially when his first attempt was not even remotely close to successful. “Five dollars,” I said. Two tries later, you guessed it — I was in a small amount of debt.


Zach, of course, told his sister of these I-burned-Dad heroics, and Grace naturally just had to have a go at making some sort of basket for bucks, too. I’m pretty certain she didn’t get a chance to equal her younger brother’s achievement on that occasion, but she sure wasn’t going to forget that, in her mind, life would be totally unjust if she didn’t finagle some cash out of me, too. Eventually — if it wasn’t the next time we went to the court, it was the time after — she got her payoff, too … but that was by no means the end of this basketball buffoonery.


One evening — one of the first spring-like ones of 2017 — Zach and I were down in Centennial Park playing a little one-on-one. (While I could probably block every shot of his and, in turn, demoralize him, I take it easy … and still wind up with an unpleasant reminder of just how depressingly out of shape I am.)  We came up with a 3-point line for Z and, after a few misses and his introduction of a possible fiscal reward,  he buried a couple in a row. I was out, fittingly, three bucks.


Grace was with us the next time, and of course she wanted to have a turn going to the bank. (The bank shot, the Bank of Dad … OK, that’s the humor equivalent of an airball.) Long story short, both took me for $3 that night, but this time I was at least somewhat smart enough to make a small arrangement with each of them. The money they won had to go toward an ice cream the next time we went out for said treats. So, I figure, I didn’t really lose on this particular deal — after all, I planned on taking them for ice cream at some point, so I’m simply still spending the money.


I wasn’t thinking along those same lines this past Friday, when Zach and I were again at Centennial. We agreed upon a 3-point line for him, and he heaved up a couple shots that were well off the mark. “How much will you give me if I make one?” he soon asked. Seeing a puny possibility of getting my pocket picked, I again said, “3 bucks.” Well, he missed, and missed and missed some more. Eventually, after about 20 minutes, I told him it was time to go: “Five more shots,” he said. Then: “Three more shots.” On the second of those final three — money.


He’s since told me that I don’t have to give him the money; he just wants me to buy him a fidget spinner. (The soaring popularity of that item is, perhaps, great fodder for a future blog entry.) That, however, was not part of the so-called contract. In the meantime, I’m more concerned that we have just purchased a basketball hoop for our driveway, and can’t help but wonder how many times I’m going to be goaded into the “how much if” game.


“Just say no.” “Just say no.” That’s my new mantra. And, “No money shall change hands.”


Well, maybe the kids won’t bilk any more bills from me, but they’re also well aware that the Beach Nook is opening in a couple of weeks … and that Dad loves a good ice cream there, too. Best to have cash on hand for all of us.