December 26, 1999
For more than six years, Bonnie and I helped a single mother raise her two daughters, Sabrina from age 7 on, and Ana from birth on. Starting when Ana was only 4 months old, our goddaughters stayed overnight with us every Friday night, and whenever they were sick or their mom needed a break. I also took the two of them out for dinner every Tuesday night.
Since we didn't have much money, I was always looking for inexpensive ways to entertain the girls. Starting when Ana was about 3 years old, one of the things that we loved to do was to go bowling at the university where Bonnie works. It only cost $1 for each game, and since it took us almost 2 hours to bowl one game, we really got our money's worth.
Sabrina would try to find the lightest ball in the place, and she'd hold it and throw it just like a grown-up. Unfortunately, even the lightest ball was too heavy for her, so she had a hard time throwing the ball down the center of the alley. She generally got scores in the 40s and 50s, and would get really frustrated if she got more than a couple of gutter balls in a row. Every once in awhile, Sabrina got a strike or a spare, and all three of us would shout and cheer, giving her just enough encouragement that she would want to keep on trying. Each time Sabrina would step up to the line, Ana would shout, "Tum on, Sabrina! You tan do it!"
When it was Ana's turn, I'd carry her ball and set it down at the end of the alley for her. Then she would squat behind it, grab it with one hand on either side of it, pull it back between her knees, and then push it toward the pins.
The two-handed bowling method turned out to be very accurate, but unfortunately, not very powerful. It took a LONG time for Ana's ball to make it to the pins each time. Each time she pushed her ball toward the pins, she would come running back to me and jump into my arms, and the three of us would cheer like crazy as Ana's ball crept toward the pins in slow motion. Sabrina always shouted encouragements to her sister, predicting where the ball was going, and how many pins she thought it would knock down.
At least 3 or 4 times each game, Ana's ball only made it halfway down the alley before stopping. We'd have to get one of the student workers to walk out onto the alley and retrieve Ana's ball. One time, Ana's ball made it way right to "the pocket," as Sabrina excitedly shouted that Ana was going to get a strike. Instead, Ana's ball barely tipped over the center pin and then stopped!
One time I'll always remember, Ana's ball crept into "the pocket," and we watched in amazement as, one-by-one, the pins fell down, causing a slow-motion chain reaction that took about 4 seconds. When the last pin finally fell, everyone in the bowling alley cheered for tiny Ana's very first strike!
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