I am writing this from the hall outside the local high school’s gym, where my 8-year-old has been wrestling all morning. This has been a frustrating season in many ways, though it has made me admire my son in new ways too. Wrestling is an extremely vulnerable sport. It is just you and your opponent on the mat, engaged in hand-to-hand combat. If you lose, it is you who loses, not a team, not any equipment, just you.
It is hard to watch as a parent. And some parents do better than others. I have seen some lows of parenting. I don’t like to judge, but it is hard not to judge the gentleman with a former wrestler’s build who was screaming at his young son after a match that the child lost. I can see potentially being a little disappointed if your child didn’t try very hard. But this man was yelling at him about not using the right move in a certain situation, loudly enough that the entire gym could hear, with personal insults thrown in. Wow.
I’ve seen some highs too. Wrestling can be quite emotional for the wrestler. There is a lot of crying. While visiting the ladies room, I found a mother hunched over her little wrestler, who had clearly just lost badly, visibly, violently. And she was comforting him, praising him for how much he had tried, how she knew he was always trying his best.
Last year my son won a lot of matches. He then proceeded to grow rapidly. This year he’s wrestling in a bigger weight class, and many of his opponents appear to have been wrestling for more years, more times per week, more months per year (I am not sure how wise this is from a long-term perspective of avoiding injury and burnout, but it does make for good little wrestlers). He takes losing in stride with an enviable level of calm. No tears, no yelling, and he’s ready to get back out there for the next match, pretty much as if the previous one never happened. It’s not that he doesn’t care. He loves wrestling, to the point of not complaining at all about being woken up at 6:20 a.m. on a Saturday to get to the meet. I didn’t choose this sport; he read a flyer, talked to kids who did it and wanted to try. But he seems to view losing in this context: the last match means nothing for the next one. Even if your opponent poked you in the eye.
This is a wonderful life skill. I can’t say that I have it at age 39. Pretty good to have it at age 8. He can be a total pain in many other ways (don’t get me started on our art museum trip this weekend — you can take a poke to the eye but you can’t spend 45 minutes looking at masterworks without complaining?) but I am definitely proud of how he approaches this sport.
In other weekend news: We did, indeed, brave the art museum with all four kids. It was OK. We’re members, so we’re not looking to maximize any one visit, which is important from a psychological perspective. The 3-year-old did enjoy seeing the arms and armor, including the horse armor, and the big swords.
On the way to the art museum, we took a slight unplanned detour to go to an open house of a home that’s been for sale for the past year in our neighborhood. It is gorgeous from the outside, and situated on quite a bit of land, so when the price has dropped and dropped our curiosity finally took over. I’m glad we visited, because now we can see that it needs a lot of work. There is no perfect house, and seeing that put our upcoming kitchen and master bathroom remodel into perspective.
This weekend we also hit the YMCA for the indoor pool. This is one of the few winter weekend indoor activities that I would say is truly fun for the whole family. I went down the water slides several times. We then all went to Wegman’s together, which reminded me why I generally don’t grocery shop with four children. The upside is that we got ingredients for some good dinners: Fondue on Saturday night (which the kids will eat — bread, apples, and steak dipped in cheese. What’s not to like?) and lobster on Sunday.
In between, there was much screen time and sibling bickering, as usual.
4 thoughts on “Thoughts from the season’s last wrestling meet”
Your son’s equilibrium in wrestling is truly admirable. A life skill that will be essential as he grows up! Great parenting!!!
@Ruth – thanks, though I’m not sure I had much to do with it!
As the mom of an almost 8 year old boy, I’m impressed with the sportsmanship! On a side note: I had never thought about introducing wrestling to my son, but now that I think about it, he’s always wrestling ME and needs to move constantly, so it might be worth looking into…
@liz- it is a good sport for wiggly little boys who wrestle regardless. They learn some discipline, patience, and strategy rather than just jumping on people.