It has taken me over three months to get the courage to write this post. The post I’ve been dreading since the moment I started my little wrestling mom blog. This is the post where I tell you about his last match, and the end of his wrestling career.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my boys have played many sports and been involved in a myriad of things over the years. From gymnastics at age 3 because he needed an outlet for the inhuman amount of energy he possessed (and he was too young for soccer), to the other one wanting to try the violin and later the guitar, to one earning a scholarship to a fine arts camp for his artistic talent, to marching band and more. They’ve played soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse……and wrestled.
I truly think that only people who are close to people who have wrestled can know what this sport is really about. It’s hard for people who have no experience in it to wrap their head around the strong emotions it brings out. Most don’t even try. But those of you who get it, know. You just know, and it is you to whom I speak.
My youngest son, the sophomore, had a decent year; he improved on last year’s record in that he stayed eligible the entire season. That was cause for celebration in itself! He won some, he lost some, he wrestled JV. It was good. My oldest, my senior, also improved his record. I was just happy he was there; compared to last year, this season was going great even if he did not make it to state. He was alive, and wrestling, I think, is what made that possible. Last year was the most terrifying of all my years as a parent. I watched my son hanging on by the tips of his fingers to school, to wrestling, to life. I felt like this year was just borrowed time after that, and not much else mattered – win, lose, I didn’t even care. I was just blissfully happy that I was able to watch him do it.
Then along came Districts. Round One of eliminations on the road to States. Michigan is a pretty competitive state for wrestling, at least in my limited experience it seems so. We are no Iowa or even Pennsylvania, but you have to work your ass off to even make it to States. The kids that make it didn’t pick it up in high school, not unless you are a mutant freak with mutant freak talent who is a reincarnated gladiator from 400 B.C. The kids that make it are very good and have a LOT of mat time. The kids that win are the kids that took it up as 4 year olds and forgo all other activities in favor of wrestling until they are seniors. Ok I might be exaggerating, and I’m sure plenty of deserving “latecomers” get their chance at the state tournament, but I think the overwhelming majority have done it all their young lives. But I digress.
So, along came Districts. I had been so busy with my new job that the season just flew by and it seemed like just another Saturday at first. But about 15 minutes after I took my seat in the stands, I was overwhelmed at the gravity of it. My son had never made it past this round so far, and this was his last chance. But he was better. He was older and more experienced, and most of all he had his head on straight this year. I threw up a desperate plea to the Universe that he would please, just this day, make it through. Just….Please. Please show this kid that there is a reward for doing the right thing. Please show this kid that the thing that kept him going during his darkest hours was worth hanging on to. Please.
And then I let it go. It was all in the hands of the Fates now.
He won his first match with a quick pin in the first. I was over-the-moon thrilled! That meant he had to lose TWO MORE TIMES in order to get knocked out….yay for long days at tournaments!! He too, was thrilled.
On to the second match and a much tougher opponent. This second guy was from a school that just dominated all day long. He had taken third at state last year. So while my son was upset about this loss, he was still in it for Regionals, and had nothing to be ashamed of. The kid was a tank.
Third match, and at this point he’s at sudden death as far as what will happen next week. He had to win this one to stay in. He did. I couldn’t really feel physical feelings at this point. You know those colorful, wobbly rubber bouncy balls you get out of vending machines? That’s what I felt like. Except more fragile and neurotic. I wasn’t sure which way I’d bounce next at any given moment.
Honestly, I’d have to ask him if he had another match after the third one. I think he did, but being a wobbly rubber ball, frenetically neurotic, some of this day has escaped my memory. If he had one, he won it. That’s all we need to know.
His last match was a good matchup. It was the kind you like to watch from high atop the bleachers when it’s not your kid out there. Double overtime. Kids very closely matched in skill and strength. My kid happened to get stuck trying to use a move so as not to be called for stalling. The other lady’s kid saw it coming. This would not have been a loss to hang his head about, not even close. However…..
As I looked at my buddies the stats girls, tears welling up in my eyes, I tried to tamp it down. “Don’t look at them, don’t look at your youngest, and by any means neccessary, do not look at the young man out there who just wrestled his Last. Match.” I guess I said that to myself, but I can’t say for sure. That’s what happened, anyway. I looked in his direction, waiting to see in what manner he would exit the gym, but we didn’t make eye contact. I knew then and I know now, he couldn’t. I watched him push gracefully and calmly through the door, warm-up clothes in hand, and stood there as the blazing red door slammed in my face, as heavy gym doors do. But the slam carried with it the entire weight of the day.
I went outside into the harsh, cold, very snowy day to get some air. I collected my thoughts and shed a couple of tears. I knew I’d have to go back inside and eventually see my boy, but I knew he needed time.
For what seemed like hours, I couldn’t find either of my boys. My youngest had gotten knocked out of the tournament in the first round, paired up with another state placer from the same team that beat pretty much everyone that day. Usually I can find him at the food table. Eventually after a couple of trips from the food tables to the gym and back, I saw him. We saw each other across the cafeteria and started walking toward each other, and he had a look on his face that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. It was pain and sadness, but it was also pain and sadness for what he knew his brother was going through. And his mother. When we met, we ended up three feet away from our cross-town rivals. He hugged me, and it just all came out.
Thank goodness he is a strong enough young man that he feels it’s ok to cry in front of his biggest “enemies”, because we both did. I was louder and sobbier, but he was sniffly too. Thank goodness he has big shoulders. Thank goodness he loves his family. It was a very touching moment. No words were said, because we both felt and knew the same thing-it’s over for him. Finally, I asked him where his brother was. He was still in the locker room with the other senior on our team who had also just wrestled his final match. I am very glad moms are not allowed in locker rooms.
When I eventually saw my Drew, he was sitting at the food table with a few other wrestlers and the stats girls. It was very gloomy over there. He wasn’t really ready to see me yet, but I couldn’t wait any longer, I had to see he was ok. He stood up and we hugged, and cried. This son is not as comfortable in public, and I knew he didn’t want to cry in front of his friends. There was just no stopping it or helping it. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had. I’ve never had this feeling before as a mother. Of course, I wanted to take it all away from him just like we want to when they’re little, but that of course, is impossible. No words we can find, no actions to divert attention, nothing can make it better. And I know that each time any of the three of us thinks about it in the years to come, even though life has of course gone on, we will remember that feeling.
I hope he never lives with regret that “maybe I could have tried harder, put more effort into it, not totally screwed my life up junior year”….regret is a bitch to live with. I hope he looks back and sees what could potentially be regretful and just realizes that’s the path he chose and he is who he is today because of it. I hope he’s got a Buddhist mentality about it; it is not good and it is not bad, it just is.
I love this young man very much. And I am sorry he didn’t get to fulfill his wildest dreams as an athlete. But I do know that he learned a lot about life participating in this sport, and a lot about himself. I know he made friends and did accomplish things many others could not. I know that he learned that only he controls his destiny with his choices, and that choices have consequences. He learned that the depths he needs to reach to pull out success, do exist in him, and how far reaching those depths are.
I’m so very lucky to have had the chance to ride along for this journey of his. The highs and lows of it; the tough lessons and the triumphs. At times it’s been the glue that held us together. When we had nothing else, we had this. I expect it might be different for a Dad, but I enjoyed it to the fullest.
Thank you, son.
I am fascinated by big courtroom dramas when they broadcast them on tv. When I was pregnant the first time, I had a job where I worked 3-11pm just a few days a week. It left me all kinds of time to watch the O.J. Simpson trial. I will not comment on my own personal verdict, but I watched every second I could. Now that we have news networks going over the minutia of the proceedings all night long, I got to watch the Casey Anthony trial as well, as much of it that I could stomach, anyway.
When Trayvon Marton was shot by George Zimmerman, I followed it very closely. I read and posted many comments about it on social media, and my heart breaks for his family and the senselessness of it all. I even had some heartache for Mr. Zimmerman, wondering if he regretted taking a life in haste. I have been keeping up with this trial as much as I could. I have been making a bee line to my tv every night after work to catch up on what I missed, and frankly have made myself sick of Nancy Grace and the rest of HLN’s nighttime lineup. But I almost feel drawn to it. This one hits home.
It is with great sadness that I read the posts on social media, and there are far too many, that say “that punk got what he deserved”….”he was a thug/druggie/bad kid”….the derogatory comments are too numerous to remember, frankly. And when I read them, my heart aches.
Some of you might remember after the incident a lot of people were posting pictures of themselves in a hooded sweatshirt holding signs that said “I am Trayvon”. As I watch these proceedings, I will admit I have shed a lot of tears. Hearing the 9-1-1 call from the horrified female neighbor, I don’t know how anyone could not cry along with her. Listening to the fatal gunshot over and over, and watching a father testify about how he had to listen to his son’s life being taken, knowing these people must feel like they are in a level of Hell they couldn’t have dreamed up in their worst nightmares….well, words really aren’t sufficient, but again my heart aches.
But the thing that keeps me up at night? Is that my boys. Are Trayvon. My boys. Have been suspended from school. My boys. Have posted pictures on Facebook and Twitter trying to look like a badass. My boys have even been known to wear hoodies and make a snack run from time to time. The death of a young person….it’s not natural, it’s not right. It’s not the way the world is supposed to work. Something of this nature could far too easily happen to my boys or to any one of their friends. And that is terrifying.
We are supposed to outlive our parents. We are supposed to get through all these teenage years fraught with angst and misbehavior and settle in to life. College. A wife. A house. Some kids and a dog, maybe. At least that is my hope for my own two boys, that they settle in to life in the direction I’ve raised them, that they’re happy and that they’re good people. That’s really all any of us are looking for, isn’t it? To carve out our little niche in the world and enjoy it?
Trayvon will never get those opportunities. He’ll never have the chance to make it to the other side of his teen years and come out on the bright side of it. It is obvious that this young man had a good upbringing and a loving family, I have not one doubt in my mind that he would have been a productive citizen at the very least. What balance has been disturbed by the incidents of that night? What if Trayvon were cosmically slated to be the grandfather of the man or woman that cures cancer? What if Trayvon were cosmically slated to just live as an “average Joe”, but be someone’s best friend, someone’s mentor, someone’s loving husband? Whose life was Trayvon supposed to make a difference in down the line, in his 20s, 30s, 50s? Whatever his destiny was supposed to be, it has been cut short. Cut short at the hand of a human being who declared on national television that he thought what happened was “in God’s plan” and that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
And every moment of that trial I watch, and as the world waits for the jury to make their decision, I cannot help but think “What if it were my son”?
My oldest has had his problems, I’ve blogged about them. But things are really on the upswing for him, and I’ll blog about all that another time. But I absolutely cannot get the thought out of my mind that on any given night, what happened to Trayvon could happen to my son. And yours, too.
Trayvon didn’t “get what he deserved”. What he deserved was a chance. I hate it when I hear someone say this or that child is a “bad kid”. That’s the most judgmental and unfair thing a person can say. Once when some local teens died in a drunk driving accident, I got wind that an acquaintance said “Well, they were bad kids anyway”. Had she said that around me, I might have asked her why it was ok for them to die because they were a little wild. I might have asked her how she would feel in five years when her own kid got to be that age and a little out of control (and he did, get out of control….the horror! She ended up with a “BAD KID”!).
I can’t help but wonder, if it were my son…how many people in my life would say he deserved to die because he wasn’t an all-A, starting lineup, cookie-cutter future frat boy?
I have been a solo parent for seventeen years, six months, fifteen days and forty eight minutes.
Wow, I’ve never drilled it down like that. But I felt it was necessary to give some gravity to what I’m trying to say here. Sure I’ve had some help from friends and family over the years, but it’s been just me and the boys through the good, bad and ugly. It’s all I know as a parent. I barely even had to share them for holidays…maybe three times over seventeen years, six months, fifteen days and forty eight minutes.
I don’t feel different than a married mom. I don’t look different than a married mom. And I don’t love differently than a married mom. Granted, I have never walked in the shoes of a married woman, so I guess I can’t say for sure things are different for them. But some people in my life act like I have the word SINGLE tattooed on my face in bright, neon colors. They just can’t get past it. “Next holiday, bring someone with you” say my family. “Don’t you get lonely?” Ask acquaintances. “We need to hook you up with a nice guy” say friends. I know, I know, they all mean well.They are coming from a place of caring. But today, someone (a co-worker) who REALLY can’t get past my single-hood said something to me that I just don’t understand.
This woman married her Jr. High sweetheart about five minutes after graduation. 35 or so years later and they are still blissfully happy. Good for them! They are very lucky to have each other and I’m happy for her. I’ve known her for seven years, and at least three times a year she will say some crap to me that is totally inappropriate. She is very preoccupied with how often I have sex, for one thing. (Which i dont divulge…I’d have to be fucking crazy to tell her things like when I get laid). One time she even told me I better find a man soon cause my “stuff” would all “dry up” if I didn’t start using it soon. She’s not always that crass. But she also likes to tell me how every parenting decision I make is wrong. I have recently stopped confiding anything in her. Who needs that shit.
Today the subject of graduation came up. We started talking about how my oldest is now officially a senior…then I started seeing this imaginary, futuristic movie reel playing at hyper speed. It showed me senior pictures, my last trip on the mat on the arm of my eldest for parent night at a wrestling meet. It showed me his friends that we’ve known since Kindergarten that are now young men and women, prom, caps, gowns, grad night. This little movie lasted just as long as the wink of an eye. But sometimes what you see in the wink of an imaginary eye can tug at your heartstrings enough to make your real eyes fill up with tears.
Normally you’d expect that three women standing around talking about something that one is finding very emotional would give each other a knowing pat on the shoulder, and maybe you’d hear “Oh, I know, I did the same thing”. Not this crowd. Mrs. Married and Ms.Thank God I Never Had To Go Through Any Of That Sports Stuff couldn’t believe why I was emotional. Seriously, they didn’t get it. They said that they were happy for their kids to be moving on to college, and/or just growing up and giving them an empty nest. I told them that I was excited for that stuff too, but I just found it very bittersweet. Sniff sniff. Blank stares.
Then Mrs Married piped up with her solution! “I honestly and truly feel that you’re so emotional about it because you’re single!”. Um, what? Did you really just say that? Apparently she feels that my life is so wrapped up in my kids that I’m terrified of being alone when they leave and that’s why I was emotional. Sorry honey, wrong answer. Because I won’t be alone. Being the only one in the house on a cold February night with a 7 month old who’s spiking a 106 fever and you have another little one sleeping in the next room and you have to drag both of them out in knee deep snow to the emergency room, that’s alone. Being someone like my kids father who has to face the fact that he created a strained relationship with his kids and knows they have little to no respect for him because of they way he treated them, that’s alone. I’m not afraid of being “alone” in the form of an empty nest. I’ve been through way tougher shit in my life than having no mate. That’s small, small potatoes. And who knows, maybe I’ll just focus on getting my groove back when I have more free time.
This woman pities me because I’ve raised these kids on my own. It hasn’t been easy, I’m not gonna lie. But maybe I’m actually lucky for having done it. I do have to assume 100% of any blame for their not-so-great behavior when it happens, but I also get 100% of the credit for the good stuff. And I am wildly fortunate to have received 100% of the love. For seventeen years, six months, fifteen days and forty eight minutes. I know I won’t miss them when they leave, because I know my boys will never be far from me, even if we are hundreds of miles apart.
So I got emotional and a tad weepy at the thought of my child, my heart, approaching this milestone. You don’t understand why I did. I don’t understand why you didn’t.
I was talking with someone the other day who I thought was a lot like me. Single mother, teenagers, having some problems with her teens, etc etc and so on and so forth. I was telling her about how I was very upset that my youngest son wasn’t playing baseball this season because he messed up his grades. I was telling her how much I missed it and how sad I was that he cheated himself out of his Freshman season. I quickly found out we had nothing in common when this mother looked at me dead in the face and said “I’m so thankful I never had to go through any of that sports stuff with my kids”.
~Cue needle being dragged across a vinyl record~
She said “sports stuff” with the tone of voice you get when you step in dog poo. It was almost like time stood still for a minute. What? How? Why? Who ARE you?
I don’t really get where she’s coming from. If it weren’t for all this “sports stuff”, I wouldn’t feel like I had a place in my boys’ lives at all, save my duties as a maid and chauffeur. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, that’s pretty much all I feel good for some days.
My boys are 16 and 17. They are trying to figure out who they are and their place in the world. They don’t really want me around for that. They are going through the rituals and rites of passage of the American male teenager…you just don’t let your Mom tag along for that kind of stuff. My youngest got in a fight to prove himself against some kids who were pushing him around. He did it on his own. I was mortified when I found out of course, and that’s why he didn’t let me find out until later. My oldest is having some issues with girls. What would normally (normally being pre-15 years old) be something he came to me for advice on, he’s working out himself and with the help of his buds.
They don’t really want to share anything with me these days except my food and my vehicle.
But for some reason they love it that I’m involved with wrestling. When my oldest was going through a tough time recently and I thought he’d quit the team, I told him I might as well quit too. I think that was the only time I saw tears from him during what he was going through. “You can’t quit, Mom”. Which was loudly seconded by my youngest son. For several weeks.
Maybe someday when they are grown and have some distance from all the teenage angst, I’ll find out why they were ok with it when they usually didn’t want me around for anything else. I have made some amazing friends throughout the years and we have shared memories of our kids doing amazing things. My boys and I have had many, many car rides to faraway lands back and forth to their events. And every parent knows the car is the best place to talk to your kids. We have basked in the glow of their victories and I have nursed them through painful defeats.
They have learned some things about how to be a man and how not to be a man from the myriad of coaches they’ve had over the years. They’ve made great friends who they will always remember. They’ve made friends with kids from other schools, taken road trips to places they would never normally go, and learned a lot of important life lessons out there on the fields and in the gyms.
Now and always, I will treasure every soccer goal, every inning pitched, every play of their football games, every wrestling match. Every. Single. One. It’s totally worth all the work for wrestling, all the hours spent watching football and soccer and baseball in EVERY kind of weather, all the miles put on my car and all the Saturdays spent.
They do have other interests like drawing and music and long boarding, but I have to say, all this “sports stuff” has been really good to me. I can’t really imagine what our lives would have been like without it.
I really really, REALLY don’t get this. And I am kind of surprised at the fact that it actually makes me sad.
I hope this doesn’t actually happen.
I was just thankful that fall that he said he still wanted to wrestle, though there were a few times at the beginning of the season where I found myself asking him “do you even want to wrestle?’ because he wasn’t acting like it. He just didn’t seem to have the drive anymore. He wasn’t one of the guys volunteering to mop mats, wasn’t much of a leader with the younger kids, and most of all he wasn’t happy when he got home.
But he was, to his credit, not leaving every weekend to hang out with his friends. He was, to his credit, trying to un-bury himself from the horrible mess he’d made of his grades so that he could wrestle. That had to mean something, right?
He didn’t have a great season last year. He was struggling mentally, and this sport is heavy on the mental aspect. His coaches had high hopes for him, because he does have real talent, but he just kept beating himself and even though he won more than he lost, he was disappointed with himself and didn’t feel as if he fulfilled his potential. This year, his Junior year, was going to be “his year”. He has paid his dues and I know he was planning on redemption. But still, his heart wasn’t really in it.
Let me tell you, this is the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to watch. Knowing what he feels for this sport and how he feels about himself when he does it, and seeing it not bring him any happiness any more is painful. Every day I worried that today would be the day he’d just quit. And THEN where would we be? He needs this. He needs wrestling, and wrestling needs him.
Things did get worse before they took a turn for the better, and I will spare you the gory details of it, but suffice it to say that he hit “rock bottom”, hard, and I am ever grateful that he found a tiny spark of self preservation and re-thought the things he was doing and who he was doing them with before he made a mistake that couldn’t be fixed.
In the last few weeks, he’s got renewed energy for the things and people he loves, including wrestling. I credit some of that to a visit from a favorite coach from his freshman and sophomore years who has since retired, but found his way up to the wrestling room to light a spark under kids who were struggling with apathy like my son. This coach’s brand of motivation doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for my son, and it is with a tear in my eye that I say I will always be thankful to him for caring. I will always be thankful for his timing. And I will always be thankful that he took an interest in my son’s wrestling career from the first time he met him as an 8th grader at their end-of-year tournament. Always and always, thank you “Papa B”. Much love to you.
I am very much looking forward to the last few weeks of this season. We’ve got team and individual districts in a couple of weeks. It should be a great time, and regardless of his individual outcome in the end of year matchups for districts and beyond, I will be happy just to be there for it, proud and with a smile on my face that he is where he should be.
I love this boy to the moon and back, and I will do whatever it takes, within my means as an opposite-sex parent, to help him on his journey into manhood. Sometimes that means letting him fail, sometimes it means propping him up, and sometimes it means just being there and being a quiet presence in his life. I know that kids try some very stupid things in their quest to define who they really are and what their place in the world is.
But he doesn’t know what I already know. He doesn’t remember being the 4 year old who stopped what he was doing once on a Christmas Eve night, as we were walking out the door from a busy Christmas with my family to tell me “Momma? You’re the prayer of my heart”.
He doesn’t know that I witnessed one of the most selfless acts in recent memory and he was the one performing it, when he hid a birthday card he received in the mail from his father. He hid it and didn’t want to open it, because his father had forgotten his brother’s birthday six months before, and he didn’t want his brother to have hurt feelings that Dad remembered one of them and not the other.
He doesn’t know that I know he is that rare hard working teenager who when given a job, is one of the more impressive workers I’ve ever known.
He also might not know that the things he’s learning from wrestling will stay with him. Care about other people, teach them what you know and learn from them too, and help a guy up once in a while. Work hard. Make no excuses. Be proud but humble. When you get knocked down, get up and go harder, when you are fighting for what’s right.
He might not know these things right now, but it is my hope that someday he will understand and remember them. They are the very core of who he is, not missteps and skipped classes and the wrong group of friends.
Today my son was one of 8 conference champs on our team, who also took the conference championship. I haven’t seen him this excited in a very long time. I haven’t seen him this proud of himself in an even longer time. His journey has both been completed and is just beginning, if it can be both. He might be 112 lbs, but to me today, seeing him take this journey, and come out on the good side of it, my son is ten feet tall. Love you so much, kiddo.
I have decided to break this little narrative up into a few posts, because it’s been a year since my last post, and I have a lot to say.
Ok, so I haven’t been the most active blogger out there. I love writing, I find it very therapeutic. And I have really missed logging on and writing something about this element of my life, the little gem tucked away from November to March that I cherish for so many reasons. Being that the season is now in full swing, quite often something will happen and I’ll think to myself “that’d make a great blog post”, or “I really need to stop neglecting my little blog”…but the truth of the matter is, I have been avoiding it.
My oldest son is now 17. Last summer he went a little wild, became defiant and disobedient as so many teens do. He’d text me at work and tell me he was going to hang out with his friends, and I wouldn’t see or hear from him for days. He’d come home and we’d fight. Then he’d leave again. It tore me up like nothing else has in my time as his parent. This is the kid who would leave his video game and interrupt my book and sit on my bed with me for some “mother/son time”, as he called it, to talk about big life issues, or nothing in particular. This was the kid who told me all the time “You’re so smart Mom, you just know things”, and thanked me so many times for being able to talk to me about stuff. This was the kid who, when his neighborhood friends started smoking and drinking at 13 years old, removed himself from those relationships because he didn’t want to be a part of it. I’m sure it’s a surprise to every parent when their child goes through something like this, but I was just….. at a loss.
Thankfully the one thing he did still enjoy and want to participate in that I could support, was wrestling. He went to two camps over the summer, and even his friends couldn’t talk him out of them. One of the camps was one I helped chaperone, and we drove six hours north with 10 wrestlers and 3 moms for 4 days and we had a great time. Both camps were physically exhausting. Knowing that’s when he feels at his best, when he’s physically exhausted from a good wrestling workout, I was relieved. Sounds a little odd for me to say I was relieved, but I knew he was emotionally grounded after that and I was hopeful that he’d magically once again start to resemble the child I missed so much.
It didn’t happen that way. He went right back to finding other places to live for several days at a time and then when school started, being gone for the whole weekend. Nothing I said or did was effective at changing this behavior, and trust me, I tried everything I have in my parental arsenal, and then some. I knew he was up to no good when he wasn’t here, because I know what the kids he hung out with were involved with. I felt helpless. You can ground a kid all day long, take everything he owns but the clothes on his back, but at the end of the day you truly cannot control someone else’s behavior. They do what they want.
I got a call from the school that he was over the allowed amount of absences in one of his classes. I had no idea, but he was skipping his first class after lunch at the beginning of the year. His “best friend” got expelled for selling drugs. Finally, even though I had my suspicions, I now had some semblance of proof as to what the root cause of this all was. All of this information couldn’t have culminated at a better time, because wrestling season started about two weeks later. I knew that regardless of all of the lecturing and threatening and punishing and crying and yes, guilt-tripping I did, that wrestling would be the thing to pull him out.
Continued in Part II
There was like a bad moon over the place or something. Seriously, mass hysteria maybe. Collective Asshole-ish-ness At Team Tournament the headline would read, if anyone wrote a headline.
Round One. I missed half of the first round because of poor planning on my part and really shitty weather. I literally walked into the gym as my son was starting his first match, and watched from matside my son get pinned. I was also really bummed out to find out that I missed one of our boys achieve his 150th career win.
I found my place in the stands. Not in the protective hive of our own fans, but on the fringe (A result of my late arrival….it brings back memories of walking into church late and having to sit in the front pew with the other people who don’t care enough about church to get there on time). Luckily I found a couple of other fringers to sit behind. Unluckily, as it turned out, behind me were the parents from the other team we were wrestling in the next match. At so it began.
I have sat behind and next to fans from other teams for four years. It’s usually ok. The fans, in keeping with the conduct of the sport, are generally congenial and respectful, but not this group.
For round two, I had the pleasure of sitting in front of a gentleman who complained about the officiating during every single match. Complain, complain, complain. Bitch, bitch, bitch. The final straw for me was when my own son was out there getting choked out illegally by one of their kids and he complained about the “hometown ref” that wasn’t awarding the choker a pin (when a pin was not had). I was starting to fear my own Mama Bear reaction if I were to turn around and tell the gentleman off, so I just moved to avoid a riot in the stands.
Round three was ok, as we were wrestling a team that had a painfully low number of kids and instead of bitch, bitch, bitch, it was void, void, void. Sad, but short and sweet. I didn’t even see any parents there. I never do for that team, so I did the usual and applauded all of their kids just so they would hear some applause when they won. Poor fellas.
Round three. Similar to round two, but multiplied by the fact that it was a home tournament for them, and they had quadruple the fans round two had. How embarrassing for their school that these people act like such rude idiots. I won’t get into details, but their fans are the perfect example of how NOT to behave. Later in the day, two of these Moms actually yelled at our coach to get out of the way. “Can’t you see we’re trying to watch a wrestling match?” *Facepalm*
Maybe it was me. Maybe the moron who brought the cowbell to an indoor function and incessantly rang it was getting on my nerves. Maybe the fact that one of our own kids had an embarrassing fit of temper had me edgy. I don’t know. I’ve never seen our coach have to deal with something like that, but he asked him to shower and finish the day as a spectator. It’s too bad, we really could have used him when round five got even uglier. I fully support his decision. I would have made him sit out too. Except I would have thrown in a Mom Look when I sent him to the showers. It was too crowded to see if coach did that, and I don’t even know if people with low estrogen can pull it off, but I kind of hope he tried. I think the icing on the cake though, was that some total waste of brain cells left his dog in the car all day.
Round five. What a great, competitive matchup. We led by two pins for most of it. Then they started voiding us in the middle weights. They were from the other side of the state, a team we’ve never seen before, but they must have had some spies eyeballing us during other matches, because they knew where we were strong and where they were not, and vice versa. I have to admit, it was a brilliant strategy. We tied. How do they break a tie during a team tournament, you ask? They review the stats and add up reversals, back points, pins, and voids. Or something like that. At any rate, one key void on our own part was what set them ahead by eight tenths of a point. It was a nail biter and a heartbreaker. We took fourth.
I was just glad it was over. No amount of “great job today’s” can cheer a kid up sometimes. You can’t convince some of the new parents that this was truly a victory and something to be proud of. So, you just pack it up, head home, make dinner for your family, and try to put it behind you.
It has been said that wrestling is 20% physical, 80% mental. I can see that.
How do you teach a kid not to beat himself? I will use my son as the example for this post, but trust me, I saw it happening at dozens of matches all day long last weekend.
Kid looks to be more physically developed than opponent.
Match starts and kid also proves to be more skilled than opponent.
Kid manhandles opponent for two periods, and is winning by a spread of 13 points.
Opponent throws a move that kid wasn’t prepared for, kid takes a minute to recover.
Opponent throws same or similar move, because he figured out it worked.
Something happens to kid and the crowd sees a visible change. Kid starts looking like it’s his first day on the mat and gives up point after point.
Kid lets opponent catch up to and beat him at the buzzer by one point, or in some cases gods forbid, gets pinned.
What. Just. Happened?
I don’t get it. Kid doesn’t get it. Coach doesn’t get it for sure.
Why both of the coaches came up to me, the Mom, afterward and asked me what happened….I don’t know. My job is to love and nurture and clap and blurt out things that don’t make sense. My job is not to analyze. My son is 16 years old now, I haven’t known what was in his head for at least 4 years. And if I try to get in there, he more often than not shows me the proverbial door.
I try not to dwell on it, but I ask him to read an article I found on the internet about sports psychology and the High School wrestler. He reads it, but he probably thinks it sounds like a bunch of baloney. What 16 year old wants to learn how to breathe meditatively and visualize and all that psychobabble la-la? (I hope mine does, because I think there’s a lot of truth to it and he might find it helpful…….but yeah. Not holding my breath).
If anyone knows the answer to what happens in a kid’s head at the moment he decides he’s beat and how to turn it around, please email me. Because this is one of the hardest parts of it to watch, and I am sick of watching it.
Did the memory of the brackets flash in his mind, where he saw that his opponent pinned his last kid in 42 seconds? Did the name of the school on the singlet intimidate him once he realized the kid could actually throw a move on him? Did he forget to breathe on the bottom like he is famous for doing and get dizzy? All of the above? Or is it something else?
I know the nature of the sport is someone has got to lose, but when a kid should not be the one losing, it’s just …… not cool.
I’m ok with watching my kids lose with dignity to an opponent who truly beat them with skill and strength.
But I am not ok with watching them lose to themselves.
And it’s so hard not knowing how to help them.