I wanted to write you a letter. I saw you at a high school tournament this weekend. You may not remember me. I was one of the hundreds of parents sitting up in the stands. I remember you really, really well. You were the mom (singular) that I saw standing down by the coaches, wrestlers and managers. I heard you too. You sure are a good yeller. Actually, that was more of a scream, wasn’t it? Remember how you kept screaming the same thing over and over? I guess your son likes lots of reminders.
You were really mad, especially when your son lost. When you screamed at the ref and told him his calls were Bull Sh**, what did the ref say? Sometimes they change their minds when parents yell at them. They tell the parents how much they regret their decision. Then they tell the parents they would be happy to provide a redo. Is that what happened?
If you have time, I was wondering if we could hash over your strategy. Are you up for it? You seem like a pretty strong lady, with strong opinions. I bet you don’t take crap from anyone, right? I bet when your son was little and you saw him getting picked on at the playground, you threw the other kid off the top of the slide, didn’t you? I’m kidding. Don’t be mad. I’m just a kidder. No one doubts how much you love your kid. That is FOR sure. I was just hoping we could talk mom to mom about a few things. Just hear me out. I promise this will only take a few minutes.
I was wondering what your son thinks of all that screaming. It’s pretty intense. I could imagine screaming like that if I was about to crash into a semi on the highway, or if Freddy Krueger was chasing me with a bloody knife. Your little guy must think losing that high school match is one of the scariest things that could happen to him, and you.
I was also wondering if you like it when people admire and root for your son. I didn’t know your son before this week. Typically, I’m rooting for all the kids, just because they’re kids. Darn it. I feel badly telling you this, but once I started watching your sideline antics, I started rooting against your boy. I’m not proud of it. But, it’s true. The people around me felt it too. Your precious little guy went from anonymity to being recognized and disliked. That was totally not fair of us. Do you think it was fair of you?
Speaking of you, do you think there is a teensy chance that you could just be injecting all together too much of “you” into this thing? You were about 8 feet away from being in the actual match with your son. It’s his match. You were not in his bracket. He can definitely do this on his own. He should do this on his own.
I am back to rooting for your son now. I hope he has a long, happy wrestling career and life. But, I have to tell you that I’ve seen a lot of crappy stuff happen to people. Young kids I know get tragic injuries that end their sports careers. Kids contract illnesses that keep them from achieving their childhood dreams. And, sometimes with no warning at all, kids die. When that stuff happens, it’s super hard to remember why you thought winning a match was so important.
That match that you were screaming and swearing about in front of the entire gym, and in front of your kids, was not what you think it was. That match was just another opportunity in a long string of opportunities that make up a life time. That match was an opportunity for you to learn and to teach. It was an opportunity for you and your son to learn how to improve. And, it was an opportunity to show your son how to handle success or defeat. That’s it. That’s all it was.
I think you should back up. Back away from the mat and go sit down in the stands. Sit back and enjoy watching what your son is accomplishing and all the things he is learning. You’re going to get mad sometimes when the ref blows a call. We all do. Don’t make too much of it. Life hands out all sorts of bad calls. You want your son to be strong, and know how to move past that. You don’t want him to get into the habit of feeling sorry for himself and looking for people to blame.
Don’t be afraid of losing. Your son can learn a lot from losing. You can learn a lot from losing. If your son sees you handle defeat calmly and humbly, he will start to understand how he might handle defeat later in life. I hope he wins at every single thing he does. There is a chance he won’t.
When he wins, be a good winner. Tell him he did a great job, and you’re proud of his hard work and effort. Then move on with things. Don’t celebrate like your happiness depends on his performance. Don’t let your happiness depend on his performance.
This may all sound like nonsense to you, but I wish you’d trust me on this. I know you’re just following your basic instincts; you’d be surprised how many times good parenting involves denying your basic instincts. I admire your devotion. I was just hoping I could get you to consider a few things you may not have thought of before. I might be making more of all these things than I should. Maybe our kids are NOT watching us, and what we say and do will NOT affect the outcome of their lives. I sure can tell you love your son. So, if I am right here, that’s a pretty big gamble for you to take. Don’t you think?