My oldest experienced his first ever Tang Soo Do tournament on Saturday. He's been training for seven months now and was just awarded his orange belt with a green stripe. So he felt ready and asked to participate.
I was smooth. I was supportive, as I held a nervous little man's hand and walked through the big double doors. I was full of, "hey man just do your best. It's no big deal, just go out there and have a good time."
I was calm, cool and collected on the outside.
I was a wreck of the first order on the inside.
It isn't that I need my kid to be the best and win, win, win. It' s just that, well, that's my baby out there!
He's a shy kid. He does not like to be the center of attention. It was going to be TOUGH for him to stand in front of a panel of judges, introduce himself and ask for permission to perform his moves.
He's also a perfectionist and very competitive. So I knew that if he didn't win anything, we'd have before us some hard lessons about being a gracious loser, and getting back up to try again another day. And you know what? Those are valuable lessons to learn.
But still… that's my baby!!! I fought the urge to scoop him up and run home.
I got that old familiar feeling… the one I used to have in P.E.
I hated sports. I wanted to sit in the corner and read. I did not want to run. I did not want to compete. I did not want to "dress out" in front of my peers. I did not want to face the whole "picking teams" bit. I dreaded, above all things, the moment that my turn in the relay would come, or I'd be called to bat. Sweaty palms, racing heart, everyone looking at me – I hated all of it. It was the sole reason I took up the trumpet in middle school – it got me out of P.E.
So it is beyond me that he would CHOOSE this, but he did, and I so wanted it to be a good experience for him.
When the time came, I held my breath, as his little bare feet carried him into the ring to face his judges.
He looked small – very very small and very very nervous.
But he did it. In a loud, clear voice he introduced himself, and with sure and determined grace he performed his moves. When it was done, he smiled a smile that told me he'd come to do what he meant to do, and it didn't matter what happened after that.
He overcame his fears. He did his form well and he could walk tall having done his best.
His little shoulders relaxed, and he poured his heart into cheering for his competitors. He's a stand up kid, that one.
Of course, the fact that he took home a couple of bronze medals (for forms and sparring) was pretty nice for him too. I think, as he stood on the podium, and they placed his medals around his neck, he must have grown at least two inches taller.
He wore those medals through dinner, and through our celebratory "Man From Snowy River" ice cream and movie night.
My little man will have to face the world and prove himself many times throughout his life. On this journey of his, he'll again have to overcome nerves and doubt, and do what needs to be done. As long as I am there to see it, I will be nervous for him too, but you know, I think he'll do just fine.