Today was a special day for my son. He started taking Tae Kwon Do in September – which, thankfully, he loves (he’s tried a number of different things over the last few years and not enjoyed them) – and today was the first day he was going for testing.
He said he was pretty nervous, something he usually is not, and he said, “I don’t think I’m going to get [my belt].” I assured him that he knew what he was doing, he’d practiced, and he just had to try his best. If he didn’t get his belt, he would get another chance to try again.
I completely understood how he felt. I am and always have been a worrier. My husband is too. So Zander comes by it honestly, from both sides. I told him that when I took piano lessons as a kid, I had to participate in a competition. I was nine, so just over a year older than he is now. I practiced my song for the competition over and over and over and over…well, A LOT. I think I was a pretty disciplined child. I think it was because I worried about messing up. I worried about what people would think of me if I did mess up. Mostly I worried about disappointing my parents and my piano teacher. But I didn’t mess up. I knew that song so well, that there was NO WAY I could make a mistake. And I wanted Zander to know that feeling of accomplishment from working hard and achieving your goal.
When we arrived at the testing area/gym, Zander got up with the rest of the students to go through his patterns. We were about 20 minutes early, and so he had some time to see the ones who’d been doing it for years, and see what they could do. After some time, it was his turn. There were four other students in Zander’s level, and as one of the instructors/testers started calling out the commands, I thought I was going to either be sick or have a heart attack. I was so nervous for my little guy. I knew he was doubting himself and was unsure of how it would all turn out, and the fact that I had NO CONTROL – unlike when it was my competition – was nerve-racking to say the least. All I, his dad, his sister, and his grandparents could do was watch and hope, for his sake, that he had an enjoyable experience. He performed all of the tasks he was supposed to. He sparred with another student. And then he had to sit and wait. Though it was really interesting to see everyone do their thing, including breaking wood slabs with their feet (ouch!), and Zander seemed to be fascinated, I kept thinking, Hurry up, already! Did he get his senior white belt?
The time came. All of the students were called back to the floor for the results. His number was called. He stood up. He had to be reminded to say, “Yes, sir.” We could barely hear it because it was so quiet. I could tell he was nervous. Then we heard, “Senior white belt.” Thank heavens. Relief. All I wanted to do was cry. I was so happy. We all were. Including Zander. It’s wonderful to see him enjoying something so much, and being successful at it. He says he wants to continue doing Tae Kwon Do forever, and as long as he enjoys it, he will have his own cheering section! Well done, buddy! We are so proud of you!