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?