These days I am a taxi service most Friday nights.
There is a brief feeling of reluctance about this fact when I think back to (not long ago) a time when the end of the week was ceremoniously marked by a glass of wine in front of the TV.
But doing without my grown up Friday night ritual is a small price to pay for the journey I take with the biggest footed member of the family who smells of cheap garish deodorant mingled with sweat (the prevail of all teenage boys I know).
At the traffic lights I feel the eyes of other drivers upon me, bleary eyed from a week of negotiating Sydney traffic. I let my son choose the music. My car is moving to the hyped bass of rapper music emanating from my little dashboard. I slide down in my seat a little, trying not to look obvious. Though I can’t restrain a sheepish smile.
I sense my own end-of – the- week weary body being subsumed by the testosterone laden atmosphere, the anticipation of impending competitive activity fuelling the drive there. I’m pulled along by the exuberance and arrogance of youth. It lights my evening journey.
We head west to an innocuous blonde brick stadium raised like acne on a large paddock near a railway line. Inside there is chaos aplenty as a myriad of nationalities congregate on these dark nights to create their own magic with a basketball and a hefty slice of team work. I can hear the squeaking of colourful boots on the shiny wooden floor as I write this post, competing with the referee’s whistle and the pandemonium of the sometimes very vocal supporters in the stands.
All generations of families come to watch these loose limbed males skate from end to end of the court, avoiding bodily contact (well officially anyway); channelling their inner Michael Jordan while leaving the mundanity of the week’s routine behind.
Outside some parents have stayed in their cars (it’s warmer there!). They are hunched over I pads, reading books with the light on, talking on phones or sleeping. A mini city of them. Caught in a vortex of waiting. An oasis of calm.
It is hard not to be infected by the sheer joy of the moment where every sinew and breath is focused on the now and on winning as these young men of the future share something much bigger than themselves with all the passion and energy they can muster.
And what a joy to know – as a parent – that this matters more than sitting in front of a screen.
I feel privileged to be a witness to this rite of passage, the meeting of tribes where magic can happen.
I wonder on the trip back with Eminem and my son in the car, if the other male in the house has managed to fill the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen before he fell asleep on the couch. As usual.