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A Balancing Game

March 7, 2013

ImageSo this whole working for my dad thing is complicated.

The major things are great. We get along ridiculously well and when we get home we don’t bolt to opposite corners of the house. My mom isn’t too jealous of the time we spend together and I even have someone to gossip with about my ridiculous coworkers. So what’s the problem? Allow me to explain in basketball metaphors.

Let’s say I’m a freshman college basketball player and my dad is my coach. He takes me on knowing this will only be temporary until I manage to transfer to D1, but we’ll agree that it was the best thing for me. On the first day of practice I might feel a little inadequate, like the only reason I made the team is because he knows me. Sure he’s seen me practicing when none of the other scouts were looking, but still, I bet the rest of the team is pretty skeptical of what I can do. I know I’ll have to work harder to prove I belong, but it’s fine, I’m ready.

A few days later I’ll be in charge of analyzing the stats and setting up the court for practice. Yeah, he should have hired an assistant to do it but it teaches me more about the game and makes me feel useful. He’ll even give me the passwords to his scouting reports because he already knows he can trust me. Usually only seniors are allowed to help with that.

I’ll get a few minutes of playing time the first game and be thrilled that I didn’t mess anything up. I might even make a block or two. It will feel like I’m settling into my place and I’ll start to realize I’m just as good as everyone else, albeit majorly inexperienced playing in games like this.

One of the other freshmen will grow to trust me and tell me she doesn’t like to play point guard. On the way home from practice it will come up in conversation and I won’t think twice about telling my dad about her aversion. I’ll feel guilty when she sits the bench most of the next game.

2613A few weeks into the season there will be a snow storm that makes it difficult to get to practice. My dad will trust me to work out at home while the rest of the team braves the storm to get to practice. I won’t enjoy my commute-free day because I’ll be worried the rest of the team thinks I’m taking advantage.

The other freshmen will start to see me as a leader and the seniors will invite me to lunch. I’ll sort of try to invite the other freshmen along but I’ll end up hanging with the seniors alone.

My dad will have no problem putting me in for any player at any position. Everyone else will only play one position.

I’ll stop trying to force myself to call him coach around my other teammates and resign to calling him dad. My teammates will follow suit when they talk about him with me.

I’ll practice really hard to be ready for an important game and my dad won’t play me at all. I’ll feel overlooked and unjustly set aside. I think to myself I’d be getting more playing time with another team.

I play terribly during the next practice, even the other freshmen are more on top of it than I am. He never tells me off in front of the others but once we’re at home he’ll make sure I bring it next time.

The next game he won’t play me at all again and I’ll be fine with it. That is until it’s tied with 4 seconds left on the clock and he calls my name. I won’t feel ready or deserving to sub a senior out, but he’ll put me in anyway. I’ll make the game winning shot. The crowd will go wild.

With the championship coming up my dad will start losing focus. I’ll put things I would usually ask for one on one help with aside and figure them out myself to not distract him. I’ll take the lead at a few practices saying Coach told me you should practice zone defense when really he just forgot to make a practice plan at all.

During a game I’ll make a stupid foul and when he calls me to the bench he’ll apologize for not explicitly explaining how to avoid that. I’ll know that another coach would have blamed me.

The next game I’ll be cocky, over playing and taking more shots than I should. One of the juniors will stop passing to me even when I’m open. I’ll back off and after a few more games the junior will start to trust me again.

We’ll win the championship because clearly we’re the best. I’ll feel like I’m part of something awesome, like maybe this could be where I stay my whole college career.

But a recruiter will catch my eye and suggest I take a look at their program. He won’t promise anything but I’ll be tempted anyway; his program is a better fit for me and in a better location. But I’ll say no out of loyalty; I can’t bail on the team that gave me a chance. I won’t bail on my dad even though I’d probably be more successful elsewhere.

We’ll have a few weeks off before we start training again. I’ll remember what it is like to not be a basketball player at all. I’ll stay out late and work on craft projects. I’ll almost convince myself that I’d be happier not playing anywhere, but I know I’d rather feel proud of my hard work than comfortable in monotony.


At the end of break I’ll find the courage to ask my dad how he’d feel if I transferred next season and he’ll tell me to do what I think is best. He knows it is my life. But he’ll be sad. He’ll say he thought we had another season together. I’ll seriously consider staying for good.

A few days ago my dad casually mentioned I’d get to be in charge of an awesome project IF I stayed through July. He sounded so cautious, like he didn’t want to scare me away with mention of the future. So even though I immediately assured him I really hope I get to do that too, I felt guilty for all the times I’d ranted to him about whether or not to work here. Yes, he is my dad and I should be able to take to him about the decisions of my life, but he is also the guy who worked really hard to build up this company I’m not always super kind to. So I’m working on it, working on the balance. And hopefully one of these days I’ll get it right. Blerg. That ended up sadder than I intended, but I guess that is because it is. I’m sad that I’m not somewhere else living in a big house with 20-something dancing on rooftops and taking over the world, but it also makes me sad to think about leaving my parents and this company which I know is really one of the good ones. I want to be everywhere all at once! Blerg. I know, I know it will be fine. My family will always love me and I’ll make the most of whatever I choose…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2013 9:44 am

    It does sound like a balancing act, but I think you’ll always be glad you did it. 🙂

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