This weekend we drove to the other end of the world, aka Windsor. Because karate tournaments do that to us. And man, the fun we had...
Well, that is to say. Before we had all that fun we had to get through some rough spots. Both Catherine and I competed in kata first, and both of us got a mightily disappointing result. I finished fourth out of five, and she didn't place in a very large group - despite doing a really strong, beautiful kata.
She was very disappointed. In fact, she was in tears. She'd given it her all, she really cranked out a superb kata, and yet it wasn't enough to place. To say she felt discouraged would be a spectacular understatement. But, I said to her, she would have to put all that aside and find a way to focus on her point sparring, which was up next. Shake it off, I said. Put it behind you, and go do what you have to do.
She wiped her tears, suited up, and went in there. I coached her (gently) through her first fight and she won it fairly handily. Her second fight would be for gold, against an opponent who was bigger than her, excellent, and very well coached. I found something she could try against that opponent and told her about it. I coached her again and she won her fight pretty handily. First place in sparring, after feeling crushed in kata.
I hugged her very hard and told her what made me most happy - not the first place, although that's cool. No, I said, what makes me super happy and crazy proud is how you found it within yourself to get a grip on your emotions and go from "boohoo poor little me" to "I can win this here fight" in less than ten minutes.
These are lessons that you can't teach your child by talking to them about it. They have to experience the whole thing - the lows, the highs, and everything in between. And if we had to drive to the end of the earth to learn it, well, so be it. That's what the 401 was made for. Right?
p.s. Oh, I forgot to add: I also won first place in sparring after my disappointing result in kata. I get a brownie, yes?