The Eye Of The Tiger
When it comes to sports and games I’ve never been what you would call competitive. This can annoy some people as when you play anything surely you play to win? Well, actually no.
Usually I play or take part for actual fun. My competitive side has always kicked in academically and professionally. Let’s call it my swot side. Growing up I did well at school because I could do it. School was something I was just good at! That then helped me to progress throughout further education and ultimately onto a professional career with a nice salary. So why is it I’m not competitive when it comes to sport? Were my parents not pushy in this department? Or is it just something that is either in you or not?
It’s only natural that I then look at my own children and wonder where their competitive drives are. One of the reasons we encouraged Adam to do Judo was because it builds confidence (which was something he lacked) and after two years of being invited to attend Judo events and declining, I was literally starting to rip up the letter when he said “yes I want to go to that, I want to win the big trophy” This was such a huge moment for us because he’d never wanted to join in anything remotely competitive up until that point. Fantastic we’d go!
It was the day of the event and Adam was still pretty excited to go. Happily getting into his Judo suit and packing his water bottle and snacks. We arrived at the sports hall and all of the mats were laid out and rows of chairs lined up for the parents to sit in. This is when the nerves started. I could physically see Adam go from bouncy excited child to oh my goodness what have I done agreeing to take part in this. We sat on the chairs and he announced that he wouldn’t be getting up from his chair because he wasn’t going to do it. Rightly or wrongly we decided to adopt the ‘ignore him’ approach because it would have been so easy to just say OK and leave. Despite his announcement he did get up when all the kids were called. A great energetic ice breaker got all the kids moving and there were big smiles all round. Phew!
The kids were separated into boys and girls then arranged by height so that the Judo fights were fair. The members of each group would then fight each other, meaning a total of 3 fights per group. We’d always been told Adam was really good technically because one thing he is absolutely ace at is following instructions, so he knows how to correctly execute the moves. First fight he stood up with his partner and within the first few seconds he’d had his ankles swiped and was down on the mat. Fight number 1 was over. We’ve never been pushy parents and I wasn’t familiar with the sickening feeling I had in the pit of my stomach after that first fight. Adam was just not expecting to be taken down so instantly. It was like he didn’t get that this was a competitive event and was just getting up for a normal judo class wrestle. I think the competitive approach of the other kid really caught him off guard. Second fight he was a bit more prepared and lasted a few extra seconds before he was on the mat again. The sickening feeling deepened, especially when we watched the child he would fight last wipe out instantly one of the kids that had beaten Adam. Oh man!
Behind every child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.
At this point I turned to the hubby and joked that this next one could be a record knock down. Up until this moment we’d just clapped and cheered in all the right places. No gritted teeth shouting from the side lines like some of the parents which I have to admit was a little embarrassing to witness. Then Adam stepped up for his final fight and within the first few seconds you could tell by his face that he got it. He understood that this was a competition and the point wasn’t to give your opponent chance to practise their judo moves but to demonstrate how much better your moves were than theirs. He had grit and determination on his face and suddenly my sick feeling turned into little flutters of excitement at the thought that he might win his fight. I wanted it for him, he deserved it. By this point both me and Paul were half off our seats with gritted teeth muttering to ourselves “go on Adam, go on Adam, go on Adam” and after a brilliant judo match, he won! I was so happy for him. He gave it his everything in that last fight and found his desire to win.
Adam is an ‘approach with caution’ kind of kid which meant it took him a while to find his feet in the event. It was a shame he didn’t get to fight again that day, unless you count the re-enactment that Emma was subjected to when we got home, ha! For us, it didn’t matter one bit that Adam didn’t win the big trophy or get the gold medal. What mattered was that our shy, cautious 7 year old, voluntarily took part in a competitive event, tried his absolute best, had an amazing day and found his eye of the tiger.