18 April 2011

Against All Odds, Victory

On Saturday, Four and Five competed in their Tae Kwon Do tournament. As you know, TKD (it takes too much concentration for me to keep spelling it out), is a mixed bag. We had stopped attending back in the fall because the boys didn't like it. I have learned, after years of youth athletics, that I have no interest in cajoling, negotiating, or otherwise forcing any of the boys to participate in them. You don't want to play? I'm not going to twist your arm. Because I've twisted Three's arms with enough torque to break them, and gotten nowhere. Lesson learned.

However, after speaking with the nice young Master at our TKD school, the boys re-upped. Then, they begged to compete in the tournament. I was very apprehensive. But I don't like to discourage, so I paid our entry fees. Sure enough, the week before the tournament, Four had that awful day, and Five refused to practice. Goody.

Friday afternoon, Five came home from school complaining of stomach pain. He got progressively worse as the day  wore on, and I put him to bed early. I warned Four that he might have to go to the tournament alone. He said that since they wouldn't be dueling against each other, he was fine alone. Progress.

The next morning, Five woke up ready to go. He didn't have a fever, and he wasn't complaining about his stomach. They got in their uniforms, and we headed off to our first TKD tournament! Half way there,  Five said he felt sick. I fed him some crackers, and told him he didn't have to compete. But he wanted to try. So, we entered the gymnasium, and joined the HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN AND PARENTS. It was hot, noisy, and chaotic. Everything that is bad for Four. I became nauseous.

The Captain and I sat up in the bleachers while the children were led through their stretches. For thirty minutes. Five hates stretches, because they hurt, and he can't do his personal best. (Please see "How I Failed Five" in Lyrics and Failures.) I waited for him to look for me. Nothing.

Next, there were several demonstrations of various martial arts. The Captain practiced karate for many years as a child. He earned his black belt when he was fifteen. Then he hurt his knee, and could no longer train. But he still retains the knowledge, so he commented as we watched.
"I don't know why they keep their hands open. That's just an invitation for a broken wrist."
"Tai-chi is just fighting, in slow-motion."
"It's incredibly hard to use two nun-chuks, because you have a dominant hand. So you have to be really skilled. Do I still have my nun-chuks?"
"Yes, dear. I know where all your killing instruments are located."
At the end of the demonstrations, I looked to see if Four had lost his mind from waiting so long to compete. Not yet.

Finally, the actual competition began, with board breaking. We climbed down from the bleachers to get a better view. Five went first, and broke his three boards "Into seven pieces, Mom!" He earned a silver medal in his group. Four also took second place. They were both so excited to receive their medals, they forgot that they were hot, hungry, and had been waiting over an hour. I started to relax. Then I found out it would be another hour until their freestyle forms competition. The nausea returned.

We had lunch. We went back into the gym, and watched our friends do their forms. At last, we were called. Five went first. His routine was very artistic, but lacked real technique. He placed third. And he was pissed. He was absolutely sullen on the podium. This was the boy who wanted to quit this week. The Captain was a clingy, nervous child, who grew into a boy who didn't like to lose. So, it appears he has succeeded in creating at least one child like himself.

Four was second to compete in his group. His freestyle forms were punctuated with guttural hyah sounds, which he says gives him more power. I think that's what did the trick, because he won  first place. He was so excited, he forgot to bow. I took many pictures of him, grinning ear-to-ear, as he was presented with his gold medal. We were ecstatic!

We left as soon as we were done. I finally took a deep breath. We stopped at the diner for lunch, and got ice-cream as a treat. Five's stomach pain returned. We went home and spent the rest of the day lying around, recovering.

I realized that my body had been clenched all day, anticipating the worst. I think it's been one big knot of anxiety for the past six years. Four is clearly making progress, but I wonder when I will internally accept that without question. When will my default thinking be one of success, not failure?

Are you trapped in old patterns? Is something from your past interfering with your present? How do we get those old voices to be quiet?


  1. You may have felt anxious, but you did so well! Seeing their success is what helps us to see ours. I wish there was some way for you to read what you have posted here from our perspective. It is one big huge happy-fest!

    (We quiet those old voices by talking over them, with new postive words.)

  2. That is SO AWESOME! I am sure you will be able to start thinking success soon enough and I totally agree with Five, it's just not as effective without the 'hyah'

  3. You were not tensing b/c you expect him to fail. You merely assumed the Crouching Mama pose, prepared to pounce and whisk away an overwhelmed child if needed. It builds muscle tone ;)

    I do the same thing when we have our good behavior parties that feature loud music and large groups of kids in one echoing gym..I monitor my sensitive kids like I have antennae on my head....that way when one of them hurls or cries, I'm on it instantly. KaPOW.

  4. @Lora: I think you're right. I'm not expecting him to FAIL, it's more like I'm monitoring. I'm sort of like OSHA-scanning for unsafe working conditions. And, frankly, the things that set him off would do the same for most kids.

    I do worry that I sell him short, though, out of worry. The Captain is much better about that I am. He's much more willing to try new things. I think the past has left me with a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  5. Is this supposed to be Four, not Five? "Five was second to compete in his group. His freestyle forms were punctuated with guttural hyah sounds, which he says gives him more power. I think that's what did the trick, because he won first place."

    Probably one parent has to worry while the other is coolio. A yin and yang sort of thing. Maybe if they were all girls you could have inherited the non-worry role. Dang.

  6. @Mabel: Yes! Thank you for proofreading. I may have to let the Captain read all my posts before I publish them. Because I swear, 90% of the time I read these suckers three times before I hit the publish button, and the next morning I find six mistakes!

    Last night I was writing while Two was doing his homework. And by "doing" I mean chatting with me about the latest LMFAO video, tapping his pencil on the table while he tried to remember how to graph parabolas, and answering text messages from some girl that he wants to hang out with on Thursday. I threatened to poke his eye out. So I may have been distracted.

    The Captain couldn't survive five girls.

  7. Yay for Four and Five!!!! I'm so proud of them for getting through all of that. It's amazing. And the medals are just icing! The Captain must be bursting with pride. I kind of forgot about the karate- tae kwon do connection. Very sweet!

    And kudos to you for enduring such a lengthy trial. It's a hell of a lot to monitor for any mom. And your two babies required a little extra dollop of motherly concern. I'm thinking that someone should have hung a medal around your neck, too.

    @ Lora - Love the image of the Crouching Mama pose. It is so perfectly apt! And it made me giggle!

    @Megan - Try not to worry too much about the missing a typo or two. It isn't possible to catch every error in your own writing - I've tried! - the mind just starts to gloss over stuff after multiple reads. You have a lot of talented writers/readers in your commenting family. Let 'em do some of the heavy lifting. It's not as if it's a burden!

  8. Yay for four and five! Though, I'm sorry Five is so sick. Poor little guy.

    I agree with Lora, you're simply at the ready. Someone has to be, right? I'm not sure how to banish those voices, either. Mostly, I just swear at mine a lot.

  9. In the interest of public safety, the Captain would like to clarify that "open hands mean broken fingers, not wrists." Therefore, if you find yourself in a combat situation, remember: closed fists. And throw in a hyah! for power.

  10. Yay Four and Five!

    Our nephew also subscribes to the "louder the hyah, the harder the punch/kick/mean look" theory. It is something to behold.

    It's hard to balance hope, realistic expectations, and previous behavioral history. That's why moms do it and dads are oblivious to the whole thing. :)

  11. Actually Megan, I think that you are doing your part to silence those voices by writing blog posts like this. You explored your apprehensions, discussed the events and noticed the growth in yourself and the boys. Maybe silencing the voices requires paying attention when you hear them and realizing when they are lying to you.

  12. Go, Four! Go, Five! Nice work, gentlemen.
    After a day like that, I think the Captain owes you a bottle of wine (or a massage or a new books, whatever relaxes you!)

  13. This was beautiful. I understand your waiting for the other shoe to drop: it probably has many times. How wonderful that there was no other shoe this time.

    I'm so proud of you and your boys for all that you accomplished at this competition. Because while you sweated, you didn't hover and you didn't infect them with your worry. You all succeeded. I agree with whoever said above that you deserve a medal also. Or maybe two.

  14. Anonymous19.4.11

    Being your own editor is not an easy task, mamason. But the good thing about blogging or writing for a wesbite, there are do-overs (you can go back and make corrections). It wasn't as much fun when I worked for a paper and saw a mistake in print the next day (ouch)...

  15. @Anonymous: Whenever I see a typo in the paper, I just blame Spellcheck, never the reporter. Evil technology is an easier mark.

    I must say, I have considered going back to the beginning of the blog, and making sure all my T's are crossed, and my links properly highlighted. Because I didn't know how to do that in January!


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