About two months ago, a taekwondo tournament was arranged by his Taekwondo Master. It was a taekwondo tournament for the whole Cebu with competitors from all over the province. I found myself pushing my little 4-year old yellow belter son to join even though he was telling me outright that he was scared to.
I was torn between guilt and being tough on him but since all his other classmates were joining, I pushed him. I didn’t force him but my husband and I sat down with him and we simply talked him into it. We were afraid he’d get traumatized despite the teachers assurances that he would only pair him up with kids his size, within our class, and with his same level. So basically he would be fighting with friends, not strangers. We were also afraid he would freeze in the face of a competition fight in front of hundreds of people so we practiced with him every night. My husband was so into it he even taught my son moves and tricks and blocks. It was actually very endearing to watch the three of them practice, since my daughter joined them even though she was just a white belt at the time, for at least an hour every night.
On the day of the tournament, we walked into the covered court and I was shocked at how many people were there. The whole court was filled with parents and kids who were warming up. Screams of “Yah!” and loud cheers and even some jeers filled the air. I was so scared for my son I immediately found a seat beside the parents of his classmates and I was silent the whole time. Thoughts like, “What did I get him into? Will he get traumatized? Will he freeze up? I probably would get stage fright if it were me…” filled my head. Suddenly the overprotective mother poked her head through the act of the toughie. I sat beside two other worried moms with kids 5 and 7 years of age. All of us expressed the same concerns and all of us were nervously watching the fights.
My husband, on the other hand, was hopping with excitement. He kept showing my son all the fights of the bigger kids and he kept encouraging him to just keep plugging.
When it was his turn, the whole crowd ooh’ed and aah’ed because the competitors were tiny. My son’s competition turned out to be a young 4 year old American and they were about the same height. I instantly relaxed when he walked out with confidence. It was obvious he was going to be okay.
My little man came out fighting. He was relentless in his punches and kicks. I heard the spectators dubbing him FPJ after a famous Filipino action star. After the fight, the two tiny competitors bowed to each other, shook hands and the teacher triumphantly raised my little boy’s hand, signifying he was the winner for the fight. My son was ecstatic because he had just won his first major tournament fight.
Pushing him was the right thing to do. Short of being the pushy, overbearing mom I was afraid to become, I pushed him into an experience he still relives to this day with a smile on his face.
I realized an important thing that day. I realized that there are so many ways to mess up as a mom but if I am to mess up, I think I would rather mess up towards the general direction of pushing them to be better than allowing them to just take a backseat to life and allow the world to pass them by.