Monday, December 21, 2009

THAT kind of parent

Charlie has started wrestling and it has truly been quite an experience so far.

Now let me start by saying that Charlie is just about 7 years old (for those of you that don't know or have forgotten). It is a very freaky thing to see such a little boy locked in mortal hand to hand combat with some other little boy that is just as wiry and fast and strong as he is. And therein lies the problem...

Charlie is the kind of kid where his whole life, everything has been easy, everything comes naturally - from sports - like baseball, football, soccer, running - to things like schoolwork, making friends and actually having a sense of style - to the even more basic skill of really enjoying himself pretty much no matter where he is or what he's doing.

***Enter the sport of wrestling.****

Well practice was all just learning in a fun kind of way so it was very exciting at first. I was thrilled because the coaches are tough - tough in a good way. They don't take any kind of nonsense from the kids and practices themselves are very disciplined - and Charlie was really listening and paying attention and trying his best (i.e. not goofing off). THEN we had our first match. Oh boy, talk about tough - in that Charlie, the kid who is used to being the best at almost everything he does, and having it all come oh so easily, had to deal with getting his ass kicked around by kids better and stronger than him. And he proceeded to walk off the mat in the middle of his 4th match and have quite the tantrum, which included crying, storming and stomping all the way up a set of bleachers...and you must remember the acoustics in a gym. I was mortified.

I was not mortified that he felt so horrible. I mean yes, I felt bad that he was mother wants to see her kid so totally unhappy...but mostly, God forgive me, I was mortified because I was very VERY embarrassed. Thankfully, as I mentioned, he is still so young and junior wrestling is apparently notorious for tears and meltdowns. But his reaction was still a little extreme even within these parameters...And Tom and I are making him continue with the program, even though he would probably take us up on it if we said "OK you can quit." But not so that he redeems himself - and us - in future matches and tournaments by managing to hold it together. But so that he learns a few pretty darn valuable lessons that apply to life in general:

1 - Not everything in life is going to be easy and sometimes you have to fight tooth and nail for what you want. Don't expect things to be handed over on a silver platter with little or no effort on your part.

2 - When things get difficult, you try harder. You DO NOT quit.

3 - Sometimes, you are going to lose. And yes, it sucks when you do. And no, you don't get a trophy anyway.

4 - As good as you may be, at some point, you are going to come across someone who is better than you

5 - Respect authority...your superiors have the power to make your life not so fun. Be aware of that - and act accordingly.

6 - You are a boy - and sometimes it is not only appropriate but it is expected that you be aggressive.

Now let me say that Max is involved in Track, Cross Country and Academic ventures such as Debate and annual County Spelling Bees where many of these same lessons apply. And yes, he has wanted to quit each one of these several times. And Tom and I are as tough on him as we are with Charlie. But things have never been as easy for Max...which is another blog post completely.

We enforce participation in these activities because we both strongly feel that learning to act appropriately while competing with your peers can help build the kind of mental fortitude that generally seems to be lacking these days. There is truly something wrong with so many kids in this country. There is this sense of entitlement, a disregard of values and what seems to be an overall lack of respect for ANYTHING that doesn't make them feel good...and Tom and I find this absolutely appalling. We want to do whatever we can to help prevent this from happening to our kids.

And not that this is the only reason it's happening - but this seems to kind of sum up what's happening. In most kids' activities they don't keep score, no one loses, everyone gets a trophy and if they don't want to practice during practice and they'd rather run crazy or pick daisies...hey! That's ok! Let's not force them to do anything that might make them uncomfortable or tax them in any way, shape or form! Take it easy on them! And let's expect that they take it easy on each other and not get competitive or aggressive, why should they? Yes, it is football, one of the most vicious sports EVER but it's going to be a tie score anyway! It should be shocking if a kid gets up in another kids face and actually BLOCKS him! And if there is a kid that is naturally good at what he is doing - well...then by all means, let's let him slack off, be disrespectful to coaches and make fun of those who may not have his talent. After all, he'll be in the big leagues some day - he's going to beat those 1 in 50 bazillion odds against him...let's start to pay homage now.

And we all know this is what real life is like. You always get to pick who you work with. You always get the job you want for the most money possible. If you don't like something you're working on or decide hey! I'm not much for parenting this can always just stop what you're doing and move on to the next thing. You can tell your boss to go jump in a lake whenever and as often as you please. You never ever have to do anything that makes you pay the bills or give a presentation or wash dishes or carry a car seat with a 15 lb baby strapped inside or even fix a toilet. And if you did...well by God you should get a trophy for it! If some a-hole hits you, well shucks you don't have to hit him back. And if you do happen to be good at something then we all know you are allowed to act however you want and treat people as poorly as you think they deserve.

OK so that last sentence is unfortunately what real life is like - but you get my drift with the rest of it...right???

Yes, Charlie is 7. And wrestling makes him immensely uncomfortable for a whole multitude of reasons. Many parents would let him quit...even encourage him to quit. But Tom and I are THOSE kinds of parents. We feel there is a lot to learn from true competition, not the nonsense kind that's happening these days - and it's never too early to start teaching kids these lessons.

So if you're looking for me to tell me what you think, you'll find me on the sidelines - I'll be the short blonde with the big mouth...cheering her kids on!


  1. Loooove lesson number 3.

  2. Wow, aren't your children lucky that you are THOSE kinds of parents?They'll hate it now, but will be so much better people because of it. Rock on!