Sunday, April 19, 2009

Am I one of "those" parents?

Noah participated in his first karate invitational yesterday. I was so freaking proud of him!

I'll be honest, when we found out this was happening a few weeks ago I had some serious doubts that he would be able to handle it. I didn't doubt his ability to learn the Kata and what ever else he needed to learn. I just wasn't sure he'd be able to handle the pressure of performing in front of strangers; not to mention if he could handle the chaos of all the people and noise at an event like that. But, his instructor said he was ready. And I'm determined to stop sheltering him so much and let him be as "normal" as possible.

We practiced his kata and what he had to say before it for a good week. Some days he did great, some days he was a pain in the ass and I really struggled to have enough patience to try and get us both through it. It didn't help at all that during this we were messing around with his medication and trying to wean him off his Tenex, which let me tell you was a giant disaster!* We realized pretty quickly though and got him back on it a little over a week ago, so last week he was doing much better.

So yesterday he performed his Kata in front of three judges. He was the first to perform in his group. He was strong, in control and focused. He won third place. OK, that sounds much better than it really is as every one in his age group won a trophy. They participated in groups of four and therefore, trophies were given out for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place.

There was one point where I was actually very close to tears as I watched him sit on the edge of the ring with the other kids. For so long I worried he wouldn't ever get it together enough to do "normal" things like this. He/we really have come so far in the last year!

OK, enough about how proud of him I was. What I really wanted to talk about in this post was how I found myself coming very close to being one of "those" mothers. Hell, I watched Rich come very close to being one of "those" fathers. After Noah performed we were so proud of him, and rightly so. But, when he "only" got 3rd place we looked at each other in surprise. Certainly he deserved 2nd place? The one girl in his group was clearly going to win 1st, that was no surprise, she was very good. But Noah, didn't he do better than the boy who did get 2nd? He was robbed, we thought. If only he had sat in a different spot around the ring. If only he had performed with a different group of kids. Didn't the judges know how far he had come? That he was "special?"

At one point I realized what I was doing. Noah didn't care. He was just thrilled to have won a trophy. Sure, he would have been excited if he won the "big" one, but no more excited than he already was. He knew we were proud of him and he was proud of himself. And, he had fun! Wasn't that what was really important?

Just where is the line between being the supportive parent and being the controlling parent? The line between being proud of your child, and showing off your child? Did I want him to win for himself, or for me? If he was happy, why did I even care that he "only" won 3rd place?

How do I make sure in the future that I keep my focus on ensuring positive experiences for Noah, and not letting myself believe that if Noah does "well" at something I'm a more succesful parent?

*Just going to say here that I really never thought the Tenex was helping Noah as we didn't think we saw any difference in him when we started it last summer. I was so, so wrong! As we slowly weaned him off his behavior started to get out of control. He was like a different boy. Three days after getting him back on it we had our old Noah back.



  1. I just wrote a post on being a good sports parent for t-ball. My son is playing t-ball. So far the parents seem encouraging and positive. Over the years we ahve had bad experiences in micro soccer and 3rd grade basketball. I've seem parents criticize the plysical features of kids -- so inappropriate! It happens and I just try to remain positive.

    Congrats to your son on his trophy. My daughters and son always treasure every trophy, ribbon, and award -- the place doesn't matter. The trophy is all they care about.

  2. We've gone through this with our 12 year old daughter, who is very athletic. She was on competitive soccer for a while, and while the coaching was great, she really was not having fun, and in fact was quite miserable. And even though people told us she was "scholarship material" we realized finally that she IS only 12, and deserves to have fun, and decided we should let her quit (after finishing the season) and go back to community ed soccer. It's easy to get caught up in wanting them to win, but honestly, it's been even easier to watch her play community ed, where they don't always win every game, but win or lose, she plays with a smile on her face and she's always happy to go to practice. Laura

  3. ok, first - I came over because this post was on the blog her blog roll below the add on my site and it caught my eye - catchy title.

    Second - I tear up each and everytime one of my girls does anything even if they stink it up - I am still proud!

    Third- the line? the balance? You rocked. it is SO hard - i think you hit the nail on the head though - look at your kid! Are they happy? Grumble your way to bed and be happy too!

    I know it sounds a bit wrong because if they did better they deserve better - but my mantra is to save those battles for when they REALLY count and let them be happy now!