Once upon a time, I was a hockey mom.
I was totally cut out to be a hockey mom too.
You're cold? Sorry, you should have put on another layer before we got to the rink.
You got checked? Go check that kid right back!
...and my favorite as well as most frequent ...
Why are you off the ice? Are you bleeding? No? Well practice isn't over and I don't want to see you again unless there is some blood involved.
And I meant it all.
I'm not a hockey mom anymore. I am a wrestling mom. Practices each week are one thing. Most of the boys get hurt from time to time. You see them cry. It's hard when the one crying is your own baby, but at the same time you know they are OK. They are among friends and someone is always quick to distract whoever gets upset. And they go back to smiles just like that.
Not so with tournaments.
Last week was our very first one, after almost six months of practices. It was exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time. The Doodle Bop gained the confidence he needed taking first in his bracket. He was the one I went in worrying about. He is the one who doesn't do as well in practices when matched against his twin or other friends. The Bunny Bee took second in his bracket. It was the Big Guy that I was crushed for. He didn't win a single match.
It was so hard to watch him go out there each time and get taken down over and over without scoring any points ... but I am beyond proud of that kid because while I watched other kids from other teams quit, leave the mat and cry (sometimes during the match even) my baby kept at it. That kid is my hero.
Something bothered me after we got home. The boys seemed older, more experienced. I started looking up the rules and realized that the Big Guy is most likely the youngest kid in his entire group. Just eleven days separated him from the bracket his brothers (as well as his entire team minus one older boy) are in. While it doesn't seem fair now, he will at some point be the oldest and biggest.
We had several pep talks this week. And we went from insisting we were quitting, to maybe even starting to look forward to today's tournament. The Doodle Bop took silver (second) in his bracket, the Bunny Bee copper (fourth). During one match, this boy was doing a number on the Bunny Bee and I was fighting back tears as I watched him fight back tears, struggle to breathe and try to continue wrestling. He came off the mat with instant bruises and scratches on his shoulders and it killed me.
Watching another child shove your child's head into a mat? Makes you second guess so many things. It's a sport. It's just a game. But you have these moments of ... oh my God.
The Big Guy had to wrestle five times because his bracket is large. He lost the first one ... but that second one? Went on forever. I have never seen him fight so hard. And he won. It was amazing! Several of the team parents had made their way over to cheer him on and it meant so much to me. He needed this win. I didn't even care how the rest of his matches went. Now he knew that he could win. Against older and more experienced kids no less.
He lost the three after that. I still didn't care. I had a feeling he took fourth place and we went over to the awards table to find out his standings. Fifth out of six ... I hadn't even realized there were six kids in the bracket. No medal. Only the first four medal. I knew the look he gave me. We walked to the car in silence and I waited for him to get angry with me for "making" him wrestle.
Instead he dissolved into hysterical tears and that was even worse. My heart was broken for him again as he sat next to his brothers wearing their medals - knowing that his entire team walked away with medals - and he was the only one who didn't. The Bunny Bee offered him his medal. It was incredibly sweet. It took everything I had to say No, you earned your medal and he will earn his as well.
I wish I could make him understand that success is not measured in medals, but in progress. The win that I thought would mean so much, now means nothing to him. All he can see is that his entire team got medals again, and he is left out. It hurts my heart more than I can express.
I'm not that parent who feels like everyone should win. I'm not all for the everyone gets a trophy just for participating. But I can see it from his seven year old perspective. All of his friends ... even his little brothers ... why not him. I thought that one win would be just what he needed to get his confidence back up again. Instead, I have tucked a crying child into bed all these hours later.
I don't know that my heart can take it. I don't know that I am cut out to be a wrestling mom.
But I don't get to feel that way right now. Instead it's all We are Corbos. We don't quit. We stick with it. You will earn that medal. I love you. Goodnight.
I shut the door and turn up the music because the crying is making me want to cry.
I know he will earn that medal. And it will feel beyond amazing when he does. It will mean so much more because he had to work so hard for it. It's getting him to see that he can get there that is now the challenge.
Someone pass the wine.