After seeing the kids off to school this morning, I indulged in a looooong walk in the park with my camera and my birds. We are in the middle of the fall migration here, so my chances of spotting interesting birdies are high. I did in fact add a new bird to my life list today: the black and white warbler. I also spotted some cool migrants, including a small group of American redstarts and several great crested flycatchers. It did wonders for my spirit to go stand in the woods and just listen to the winds moving in waves through the treetops.
There was one dark spot in my walk, though. A woman walking her dog passed me, talking loudly into her cell phone and bitching about her kid. “Yeah, he played well in his soccer game Sunday, even blocked two goals, but then three-quarters of the way through he took himself out. TOOK HIMSELF OUT. He said his legs hurt. Didn’t stretch before the game or something. I was so pissed. His coach was going to let him play the whole game! I know! I told him after that unless his legs are FALLING OFF, he should stay on the field, if his coach ever gives him another chance.”
I know this woman. I’ve seen her at the school, picking her son up. He’s about Thing 2’s age. 10. I wish I could say her attitude is rare here, or that I, myself, would never ever talk to my Things like that, but that would be 100% Grade A American Bullshit. What shocked me most about what I heard as I stood there in the woods with her words washing over me was that I felt like I was listening to a version of myself, and it was not fun to hear.
I am guilty of pushing my own kids too hard when they were too young for that kind of pushing. Rec soccer, travel basketball…”Suck it up! Walk it off! If you ask to come out because you’re tired, the coach won’t play you next game, so you have to push through it!” So many of us treat our grade schoolers’ sports as if one moment of weakness will ruin their entire athletic future (and with it, the chance at a full ride at a good university). Recreation should not be an all-or-nothing experience, and these poor kids should be having fun, not striving to live up to an impossible adult standard. Of course I know not all parents are like this, and almost no parent I know is like this all the time, but there are many of us who too often give in to the “Stay in the game, you little twirp, unless your legs fall off” attitude when it comes to our offspring, as though our value as parents depends completely on their physical (and sometimes academic) achievements. The poor kids must feel like they can never make even the slightest mistake or their lives will be ruined.
I am so glad that we decided to take our kids and ourselves out of the high-stress team sports system and moved them into martial arts. We joined a family style dojo (Ganguly’s Mixed Martial Arts) where we know mistakes are corrected but not held against them, where taking it easy for a day because you’re tired won’t be held against them for the rest of a season, and where they are encouraged to work hard but never to the point that their legs are FALLING OFF.
This was perfectly demonstrated at class tonight. Thing 2 was scheduled to take his usual 45-minute kids MMA class and follow it with an hour BJJ class that was a mix of kids and adults. At the start of the BJJ class, he was the only kid there. He came up to me and said he didn’t want to take class because he had been hit hard in the head while sparring. I checked with one of his instructors, and he informed me that Thing 2 was fine…so I realized that he was intimidated to take class as the only kid and was taking himself out of the game. Rather than freak out, I let him sit there to see if any other kids arrived late. If someone else needed a partner, I said, he would put on his gi and join class, but if not, he could sit there and watch. The instructors cajoled him a little to try to get him to join, but he was not shamed into participating. No one pointed out that his legs hadn’t fallen off or made him feel horribly inadequate for not wanting to roll with people 2-3 times his size.
I still push, and probably still too much, but thanks to my own training I’m learning to be more “I want to help you reach your goals, so keep working at it,” and less “I’m totally embarrassed that you’ve made a mistake.” When I find myself doing the latter, I apologize to them. Perfect people are actually kinda creepy, anyway. Real humans feel pain and need rest and screw up and all the other messy stuff that keeps life interesting.
Apologies for what has turned into a really long introduction for the usual list of Things I Shoved In My Pie Hole Today, but I needed to get it off my chest. Without further ado, here’s your regularly scheduled food porn:
- Smoothie: banana, pineapple, frozen mixed berries, red leaf lettuce, romaine, kale, flax and chia seeds, unsweetened soy milk, and water
- Cinnamon raisin Grainaissance mochi with earth balance butter and maple syrup
- Coffee with stevia
- Salad: Red leaf lettuce, romaine, kale, red onion, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, shiitake, chickpeas, pistachio, smokey grilled tempeh, and blackberry ginger balsamic
- Grapefruit seltzer
- Coffee with cardamom, vanilla stevia, and almond milk
- 83% dark chocolate
Afternoon Pre-Class Mini-meal:
- Apple with almond butter
- Popcorn with olive oil and Komplete Spice Mix from Karoo
- 1 slice whole wheat bread with hummus, red leaf lettuce, romaine, and kale
Dinner (after 2 classes at the dojo):
- Grilled Cheese: whole wheat, Daiya swiss, tofurky, and mustard)
- 1/2 grapefruit
- Coconut seltzer
- Glass of Pinot Noir
- 1 slices of baked tofu
- Piece of 83% dark chocolate