This blog post is dedicated to Peter and Judy Morden: This quote appeared on our dojo's social media profiles late on September 23, the night before a big tournament in London, Ontario, where we (cough) were hoping to win lots of medals and trophies...
I cough because of course we're all aware of the truth of the quote. It's not the trophies and medals that matter. It's the lessons our children learn. But as I like to say, winning is kind of fun, too. It just can't be the goal of the thing. Whatever it is you or your children do in life, you'll find that winning is - to use the cliché - not everything. Learning is. Growing is. Becoming the best person you can be - now that's getting closer to the point of it.
One of the issues I had with allowing my daughter to join the tournament team was that I suspected her of wanting to look cool in special team uniforms more than I thought she actually wanted to work hard and compete and improve her art. We talked about this many times over the last couple of years and while she admits the uniforms appeal to her (and not without reason; they do look cool), it wasn't her prime motivation.
That's excellent. Because there is something really neat about those uniforms. It's not that they look cool. It's that they look extremely cool on someone who's earned the right to wear them. Which we did by qualifying for Team Canada.
We just got Catherine's shiny new Team Canada traditional gi this week and she was extraordinarily keen to try it on after months of waiting for it. I must say it looks good on her. I think it makes her feel good, too, as you can see from her facial expression.
It's always a good idea to make children earn their cool stuff, ideally after learning a few good lessons about perseverance, hard work humility, adversity and grit. It wasn't an easy road; we both got bumps, bruises, and many
tournament losses, I mean, learning experiences. We both went through the same process to earn the right to wear the national team uniforms, and what a great experience it was to share that journey with her.
She had to work very hard to earn it, she had to work past her initial "learning experiences" and come back stronger, and in the end, on the weekend of the national qualifier, she had to perform under pressure. She earned her spot, and she knows it. And when she put on that gi this week, her face showed it. It was a big realization for her. I could talk to her about the benefits of hard work for 16 years it would not have the same impact as receiving this famous gi she's earned through her own hard work.
Yeah, one day that exceedingly awesome white gi will be in a box somewhere gathering dust. But I sincerely hope the lessons she's learned earning it stay with her forever.