The Agony of Defeat, and Why I was Glad to See It

Well, this post could put me in the “Worst Mother of the Year” category by some, but I would have to disagree with them.

I was glad to see my son fail.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  Let me back up.  Two weeks ago, James was scheduled for testing for his first brown belt in Tae Kwon Do.  He’s been at this for two years, and has been excelling at it.  Its great to see your children find and succeed at something they love, and for James, this is his thing. 

So, when I noticed that his name was on the list for testing that month, I was really surprised.  He only had one stripe on his belt, and they get the third when they pass testing.  He had attended enough classes, but I didn’t think he knew his stuff well enough.  When he asked his instructors about it, they said to go ahead and try. 

It wasn’t long after he started that I started to pray that he didn’t get his final stripe.

Watching James not doing well was tough.  He’s really good at karate, and to see him in a situation where he usually nails it was uncomfortable.  Its not like being at a tournament and seeing him have trouble with something he knows because of nerves.  He didn’t have his forms down.  Plain and simple.  And I didn’t want him to be rewarded for something he couldn’t do.

It was pretty obvious that the instructors giving the test were concerned, too.  Thankfully, it wasn’t just my little guy– two other guys weren’t ready, either.  They didn’t get theirs, either, so that helped lesson the sting a bit.  Afterwards, one of the instructors huddled with the boys and talked with them for a very long time.  He said the same things I said to James when we got home, and I was grateful for that.

I don’t want my children receiving accolades for work they don’t do.  I don’t want them passing though a program without putting for the effort required to do earn each rank within it.  If James had been given the brown belt, he wouldn’t have earned it.   Why should he bother trying to earn other things, if he can just “get them” elsewhere. 

I want him to know that he can fail.  I want him to know that there are times when he won’t be good enough, smart enough, fast enough, or ready enough.  That someone else might be better, smarter, faster or more ready.  I really think that these experiences now, when he’s ten, will help prepare him for risks when he’s older.

And when they tie that black belt around his waist, I want him to experience to sweet pride that comes with it, knowing deep in his heart that he earned it.  I don’t want to rob him of that. 

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About Anne McD @ourlittlenthouse

Hey! I'm a stay at home, Catholic mom of 7, former homeschooler, now public schooler. Welcome to our crazy. Please excuse the noise.
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One Response to The Agony of Defeat, and Why I was Glad to See It

  1. Angela says:

    Beautiful post, Anne.

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