We push our kids. That is a part of parenting. For The Boy at least, if it is not easy at first, there is not really a point in learning. I think part of this comes from the fact that a number of things have been easy for him. Music and math come very easily to him. Most physical activities do as well. So we push, we prod, we encourage and little by little, improvement occurs, and maybe a new interest as well. The mantra is “Give it a shot, you never know if you’ll like it.”
In addition to his inherent stubbornness (I blame this trait on LW), The Boy also has a touch of shyness. Speaking in front of a group, meeting new people, and worst of all, performing, makes his little heart weep. So despite my own enthusiasm for the event, The Boy was not happy to have been signed up for his first karate tournament.
He’d had a couple of set backs in karate. He had not been eligible for his belt test to is still at the same rank as he has been for the past eight months. A karate instructor, trying to help him improve, got The Boy mad because “He just wants me to do everything perfect, and nobody is perfect!” So as the tournament drew closer, he grew less and less interested in it.
The day before the tournament, we were talking over lunch and I, not realizing how he was feeling, enthusiastically asked him if he was excited for the tournament. He set his fork down and cradled his head in his hands, tears welling up.
“What’s wrong buddy?”
“I hate tournaments!” He’s never been in one, really, but I let that slide.
“I don’t like to compete,” Said the kid who is always challenging me to race him.
We chatted about how he was just going to do his best and his mother and I are proud of him no matter what and he just had to be brave and it wouldn’t be very long and…and…sigh.
Day of the tournament dawned. I made pancakes with bacon and banana slices shaped into a smile (though I think that it really looked more like an angry gorilla). LW went to get him up and give last minute encouragement.
“This is the worst day ever!!!” he moaned
“I have to go to a tournament!”
“I’m going to be there to watch you and daddy,”
“And tomorrow I have to clean my roooooom!”
Unbeknownst to me, they made a deal that if he went to the tournament, LW would help with the room, Life is full of compromise and bargaining.
We made it just in time to get The Boy to his first event. Slowly, he started brightening up as he talked to kids near him. I tried not to be an Alpha Dad, scoping out his competition, but couldn’t help myself. There is a small chance I have a bit of competitiveness myself.
There is a moment, a glorious moment after his first event, that I saw a look of satisfaction on his face. It then turned to confusion as he was asked to line up again. and then:
Two second place trophies. The punchline? The Boy looked at me and said, “I wish I’d gotten first place,”
Good thing he is not competitive.