I signed Sabine up for Taekwondo. This is her third sport/activity on the round of “what does my kid want to do?” I’m big into participating in something. I don’t really care what it is – a physical sport, a musical instrument, a creative extracurricular such as painting, whatever. But I think kids need to be a part of something to learn practice, pride, and to have an outlet. My parenting philosophy aside – the kid started class today and, one class in, she’s enjoying it far more than she did a whole season of gymnastics or swimming.
The first session was a comp. She got to participate to see if she liked it, I got to observe to see if I liked it, then we got a one on one meeting with the Gyosa (I hope I spelled that right) to discuss the program, our expectations, and his. It was different than what we’d participated in the past because in the past the instructor’s expectations were pretty much “You’ll participate” and mine were, “You’ll teach my kid to not drown/do some forward rolls and stuff”. I liked this program though and the goals of teaching self-discipline, self-respect, pride, and helping others. They even have this neat oath they have to memorize about having knowledge in their minds, peace in their hearts, strength in their bodies, etc. It was good.
But what threw me was that the Gyosa asked if we had any long term competitive goals. And I sorta went … “Uh, what?” I mean, I realize that sports are competitive. Hell, I figure skated competitively for nine years. I’ve been to Nationals. I’ve “vacationed” by traveling around the country for competitions. But, for some reason, it never entered my mind that my kids would compete in well, anything. And then it hit me – I really don’t give a shit if they’re the best. In anything. Ever.
I wrestled with this for the remainder of the day. Does this make me a bad mom? To not want my kids to be the “best” or “smartest” at something? I want them to be the best THEY can be. Sure. But if they never win a competition, or are never ranked tops in something, I won’t be upset. Of course, if they WANT to compete, if they WANT to win, I’ll encourage them and support them in any way I can. But it’s not in me as a parent to care whether or not they do from the get go. Which is odd because, legend has it, before my first skating competition (at the age of 7) I looked at the trophy display and said, “I’m bringing one of THOSE home.”
I’m competitive. I will slit your throat in a tight game of Monopoly. But for my kids? I want them to be happy. I want them to have fun. I want them to be proud of their accomplishments in whatever they chose to participate in. But to excel? I am rather ambivalent.