Taking Bronze

by Stefani on 9-September-2008

Double Bronze

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. 
amanda September 9, 2008 at 6:15 am

you did good, mama. I got butterflies just reading this – I can’t imagine what it felt like to the be mama sitting there on the bench. He must be soo proud of himself, as he very well should be!!

K September 9, 2008 at 6:20 am

Good for him! I completely relate to your feelings about P.E. and the nerves for your children. I had no idea that I could feel so nervous for another person until I had my own little guy (now guys). I can just see your guy standing proudly, receiving his medal!

Amy September 9, 2008 at 6:32 am

I hope you take some time to feel good about your mothering when you see him coming into his own like this. Good for both of you!

Linn September 9, 2008 at 6:41 am

Wow, that’s going to be my #1 boy in a few years…the same tentative but determined and shy personality. Good for him.

Sarah September 9, 2008 at 6:58 am

What a wonderful story! I felt like I was watching from the bleachers waiting to see what would happen, nervous for him putting himself out there too. 🙂

Cassandra September 9, 2008 at 7:09 am

Good for that little man! Just the mention of P.E. makes me shudder. Luckily in high school (when we were required to take 2 semesters) they offered a class that was just for girls and was mostly running/walking (which I could do…team sports were beyond me) Our teacher tried to force us to dress down and shower one day afterwards (threatening us with bad grades) so all of us ended up showering with our towels on!

Lisa Clarke September 9, 2008 at 7:17 am

Aw, good for him! That’s wonderful!

And I’m with you on P.E. Wish I could have found some way to get out of it myself, but there was no way out in my school.

Sarah Jackson September 9, 2008 at 7:18 am

Oh hooray!! The biggest achievement is overcoming those fears and getting up on the stage. Those medals are a great extra bonus!

I have one like him – the competitive perfectionist one – and I’ve been holding off on team sports until I know she won’t kick the other kid in the shins because she’s ticked off. We’re trying tennis instead. Non-competitive tennis for now and working on being a good sport and having grace when things don’t go her way. It’s gonna be a long road.

molly September 9, 2008 at 7:48 am

you and i would have gotten along just fine in school 🙂

i agree with sarah – anyone who gets up there to perform in front of a panel and an audience is a winner already. the medals are the icing on the cake. way to go young man!

elissa September 9, 2008 at 7:50 am

oh, hooray for all of you! and i just have to tell you that i played the trumpet in middle school too!!! don’t think i ever made it to first chair, but i can still play C scale 🙂

Joy September 9, 2008 at 8:18 am

go little man!

It is so true, though. As we watch our littles grow, we grow ourselves. It blows my mind some days all the lessons I have learned about myself while supposedly ‘teaching’ my children.

Annika September 9, 2008 at 8:23 am

Oh, mama! I’m glad I have a few more years before I have to put on that calm exterior.

Baba September 9, 2008 at 10:08 am

Congratulations on the medals little man!. And gratz to momma too!

claire September 9, 2008 at 10:09 am

ahhh I remember those days! I used to compete in karate when I was 8 and 9.

That movie and its sequel are two favorites of mine!

Aimee Greeblemonkey September 9, 2008 at 10:25 am

way to go!!

Teresa September 9, 2008 at 10:30 am

I love that he wore his medals throught the rest of the evening! Congrats to your son, and to you for being so brave! 🙂

Allison September 9, 2008 at 11:16 am


Diane September 9, 2008 at 11:37 am

Beautifully done! I was reading along with my breath held… whew!

Trumpet! Lucky you! I had to pretend to be asthmatic to get out of PE. : )

Mia September 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Seriously Stefani, your blog is my absolute favorite to read, and for good reason!

You have the most eloquent way of sharing stories from your family’s life! And congrats to you little man too!

Selina September 9, 2008 at 12:37 pm

I’m in tears. That’s beautiful

erin September 9, 2008 at 1:43 pm

hooray for both of you!

Stefani September 9, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Goodm for him and good for you on keeping your cool, well at least as far as your son knew!

Jen September 9, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Way to go SuperYonderBoy! Congratulations!

Relyn September 9, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I’m struck over an over again by how much parenting is simply a matter of letting go. It seems to me a series of small heartbreaks and large triumphs. Proud of you for letting go, and of the Yonder Boy for doing exactly what he set out to do. And for doing it so well. Congratulations!

Em September 9, 2008 at 6:15 pm

That’s So wonderful! I love this post, it makes me feel good to read such a lovely life lesson for parents everywhere – are kids are not us, and we have to be strong so they can be themselves and be strong too! Wonderful!

Hannah September 9, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Watching your child achieve a breakthrough in martial arts like that (or any other sport, I suppose) is truly amazing. We’ve had a similar experience with our eldest in taekwondo. It’s a wonder, that we can spend 24/7 with these kids and they can still take our breath away.

Man From Snowy River! O the memories!

hanna September 9, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Well my little ones haven’t got to that stage in their life yet but I can well imagine what it will be like. Our precious little ones out there doing their thing in the world. I’m sure I will be 10 times more nervous than they will ever be.
And by the way, I would have been hanging out with you in the corner trying to avoid PE, I hated it! I would dread days when we had PE.

Meredith September 10, 2008 at 4:54 am

Oh my, I know what you mean about PE. It was the bane of my existence. So much so that I cannot play sports to this day (which I really don’t mind so much, to be honest). If I’m in line to bat a wiffle ball, my legs start to shake and I get sweaty. Awful memories!!!

Mandy September 10, 2008 at 5:34 am

Thank you for another wonderful tale of those amazing boys of yours. At the beginning of the story I was nodding along in agreement about PE class, and then I started feeling nervous when you talked about walking through the double doors and then when you described getting the medal around his neck, I got goosebumps. I feel like an honorary auntie! Good for him. I am so proud of him!

Marina (from Denmark) September 10, 2008 at 6:24 am

Congratulations. Yes, yes I know it is important to learn to loose with grace, but all of us grow when we win. It certainly sound like your cool boy deserves his medals.

Danielle September 10, 2008 at 6:48 am

Yeah! Congratulations to your son! What a wonderful moment (for both Mom & boy).

Thimbleina September 11, 2008 at 7:14 am

Well done to your boy on the medals

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