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Jewish World Review April 15, 2004 / 25 Nissan, 5764

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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The hoop-in-the-driveway phase of life | I've reached the ultimate in suburbia — we just put a basketball hoop up on the driveway.

You know, one of those huge but portable ones, only if you fill the base with too much water (which my husband did) it's pretty quickly not portable. So you have to hope you put it in the right place to begin with (which he did not).

Anyway, somehow that hoop seems to cap the picture.

Boy, do I feel like my parents.

We got the hoop for my oldest child's 10th birthday. Something of a milestone in itself. The "double digits." He was so excited over the "big number." Sheesh.

Anyway, for a long time I had resisted the basketball hoop. I didn't think hoops were totally tacky in the same way a minivan is tacky — I mean, the way I used to think a minivan is tacky (I'm on my second now and think they are actually really cool).

I just thought of the basketball hoop as being kind of a cliche — and okay, maybe a little bit tacky.

But now I realize it's not a clichi. A basketball hoop definitely signals a new phase in life.

While our youngest is still only 2 1/2 years old, the fact is the strollers are already gone (and hopefully the diapers will soon be too). I have a playpen and a high chair, but those are tucked away for when people with babies visit.

The 5 year old isn't so interested in "The Wiggles" anymore. She wants to focus on nail polish. And the seven-year-old is already studying to be a veterinarian. And her hair has to be worn "just-so" by the way.

Now there's a regulation size basketball hoop in the driveway, and I remember when we had the little plastic multicolor one in the backyard, with one of those little bitty balls, and that seemed out of reach for the kids.

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As I watched my husband playing ball with the children last Sunday, we laughed at how he towered over all of them and could tease them by running the ball around them and having them chase him to no avail.

And, I thought, how soon that won't be the case.

I look ahead now more and more to a different life. One where there will be fewer "Mom, Dad, can you help?" And more hurriedly whispered, "Mom, Dad, don't embarrass me, please." I apparently broke that rule the other day when I said "hello" the wrong way to the mother of one of my boy's friends. (Can I still say "little" boy?)

As he explained it to me, I said "hellooooo" not "hello."

Oh. We're definitely in the "basketball hoop in the driveway" phase of life.

I picture the "tweens" who are already on the driveway shooting hoops, and the "teens" who will soon be there. Already we're phasing out the training wheels on the bikes, and before long the car seats turned booster seats will be all gone, and I'll finally be able to put one of my children into that front passenger seat!

Yep, that's the "basketball hoop in the driveway" phase of life.

I don't think it's better or worse than the real "little one" phase of life, I'm just beginning to see that we are getting into a wonderful new season of life, inaugurated by a 10th birthday and a basketball hoop in the driveway.

Maybe the basketball hoop is a cliche in American life — but it's a pretty good one.

Kind of like a minivan.

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JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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