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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Math Geek Mom: Seasons
February 9, 2012 - 8:22pm

There are many times in math that we encounter behavior that appears to repeat or cycle back on itself. For example, one often finds strings of repeating digits when trying to convert a rational number into a decimal, or one can observe cyclical behavior associated with the trigonometric functions. Such behavior came to mind recently as I realized that we are moving from winter into a spring that will eventually turn into summer, and that, as a mom, I needed to plan for such a change in seasons.

My daughter just finished her first season playing grammar school basketball, and I must admit that I am sad to see the season end. I am sad because she was part of an amazing team that actually did not lose any games all semester, but I am also sad because I will no longer have plans for how to spend Saturday afternoons. For the last few months, we could count on taking her to a basketball game, where we saw other parents and watched what turned out to be a great game. Yes, grammar school girls’ basketball games can be quite riveting, and were often as exciting as some of the best basketball games that can be found anywhere. However, I am most sad to see this season end because in her basketball team my daughter found a way to grow that she could not have found in other outlets. For in this past season, she truly became a team player.

I was not sure what to expect of her when she joined the basketball team. Would she willingly accept coaching, and what if she wanted to always have the ball? However, none of my worries materialized, since she followed the coach’s advice well and easily became a player who got the ball away from the other team while passing it to an appropriate player on her own team. She did make some points, but most of the time she was the little player who stole the ball and then took off like lightening down the court to the other side, leaving the rest of the players in the dust. Of course, my husband and I cheered loudly every time she did this.

As the season unfolded, her team won game after game, only ending in a tie once. Although I was glad when she won, I realized that this could not go on forever, and so I kept expecting their team to lose, and each week left realizing that such a loss would not happen this week. I told her that what was important was that she played fairly and with respect, and that losing was part of playing. But, week after week, her team won, sometimes in the last seconds and by only a point or two. Indeed, her last game was also a very close game, with the two teams only a point apart. With only eleven seconds left to the game, the other team got ahold of the ball. I told my husband that I felt a major sense of déjà vu, as I recalled the 1982 NCAA men’s basketball final game in New Orleans, in which a relatively unknown player named Michael Jordan threw the ball across the court to get the game winning points with only about 10 seconds to go. Alas, there were no such baskets that Saturday, but in the end, her team made another basket and went on to win. And so, an amazing season ended.

So what now? Before summer camp and lazy days at the pool, there will be spring sports. I am thinking that she might do well at track…


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