I was at a judo tournament this past weekend with my wife and kids. I was never in
judo, but my wife was when she was a girl. She signed the kids up for it last minute this past September.
It was kind of a surprise to me, actually. Judge for yourself by the dialogue...
Jack, what do you think about putting our kids in judo?
Well, dear, I'm not against it, but they're in gymnastics already. Didn't you say
one artistic activity and one physical one was the limit?
I don't remember her ever answering, but the "one and one" rule was her own, so I assumed
she'd follow it.
A few days later...
I was downstairs with a client when I heard them getting into the van.
Diane, where are you going?
I'm taking the kids to judo.
Because I work while judo is on, I'd never seen them at it. The kids love it, though.
Last Saturday we took them down to a city for their first judo tournament - in fact, their first
ever tournament of any kind. They're seven and nine.
As I expected from their piano recitals and other events, I was much more nervous than
they were. Watching my seven-year-old walk around the gym, all by himself, to face his
first opponent - I was spellbound. So many people were watching him, and he
looked so tiny on that big mat. He fought twice and lost both. My older son fought three
times. He won his first one, then let his opponent win the other two.
I don't care about winning. Maintaining your composure in front of hundreds of
strangers while someone's trying to defeat you - you've already won, if you can do that.
I was so proud of my kids - and all the others, too, - for their casual attitude in the midst
of what I felt was a daunting situation.
I think I've figured out why kids can be confident when they seemingly have no right to be.
It's because a kid doesn't have a comfort zone the way an adult might. As an adult, you
have a lot of control over your life. You have demands to meet, but you get to choose, to a
great extent, how, where, and when to do that. Kids have to go to school, like it or not. They constantly
have to face situations they can't control and can't retreat from. So to a kid, a new situation
is the same old one: adapting.
As a kid, I was never courageous like mine are. As an adult, I remain reclusive. I'm so glad
that (mainly because of my wife) my kids face society without the reservations I have.
This kid isn't mine, but he was at the tournament, too. He had a grim look about him sometimes, but
he clearly was a veteran of the process - he's older than mine. He's drawn from memory. Every time I
try to tweak a better finish on him, he starts not looking like I remember. That elf-like face with the
mournful look in his eyes...that's what I remember. But don't worry; he was smiling sometimes too.
Kid(s), you done good.