My kids are now at the age when I don’t hear “look at me” as much as I used to. A few years ago, that is all I heard. “Mom, look how strong I am!” they would say as they picked up the bag of groceries with the eggs in them and then proceeded to drop it. “Hey Mom, watch this!” I would hear as they went down the slide going ker-plunk at the bottom. “Hey, Mom! Watch me!” I would hear as they tried to throw the baseball into the strike zone. The outcome was never the point, of course. All they wanted from me was some positive attention. So no matter what they wanted me to see, I applauded their efforts and they were happy.
When they started training in the martial arts, the early years were filled with “Did you see me?” Of course I always saw them. But as each year passed, there was less overt asking for my attention. I don’t hear “look at me” any more or “How was that?” the way I used to. Today they will get together with their friends and discuss how the event went far more than they will with me. But while those days of begging for my attention may be over, they still want it and I can still see their need for my attention. Now, I will be scanning the floor and see young Mr. Lacy do a really good kick. Without even realizing it, he will look over at me to make sure I saw it. Ms. Lacy will do a killer form and the second she is done she will look my way. They still want my attention and that little smile, wink or thumbs up I give them each time. The smile that follows is always a priceless moment for me. Even now.
That is one of the things I love most about tournaments and athletics in general. The little “look at me” moments which occur during the event. The little thumbs up from parents and fellow students in appreciation for the student’s efforts. The applause from the crowd and the smile of a job well done no matter what the result. Tournaments are a great opportunity to give your child the “look at me” moments they want from you. They train hard every week. But the very nature of what we do makes it hard for parents to truly appreciate just how talented they are getting. At a tournament, they want you to see them do something special few people have the courage to do these days, compete! Give them the opportunity. Go to the tournament and then give them the thumbs up they want so badly. It will be something they remember forever, even if they won’t admit it.