Last night Boy Child and Girl Child had Taekwondo testing in order to get their next belt. This testing? Involved the ability to spar.
Sparring is alternately fascinating and difficult for me to watch. Fascinating because, particularly in the case of Girl Child, it involves much more grace and agility than a good old fistfight that a East Tennessee girl like me would be accustomed to, and difficult because well, that's my freaking kid getting his ass kicked and I can't threaten to run over the over kid doing the beating with my SUV because that would just be bad form and probably get my kid disqualified.
Girl Child moves fluidly throughout the fights, as she moves throughout every aspect of her life. She's a girlie girl to the extreme, and even in her full gear her hair flutters neatly to each side of the huge, bright red, plastic mask she wears to protect her skull. She makes a mouthpiece and knee pads look stylish somehow. I'm not sure where she gets this particular skill, but it's one more thing I admire about this child I adore, but don't necessarily understand. Also? Her ability to get punched in the stomach and immediately come right back and hit the other person in the head. I mean, immediately.
I really don't think I'll ever have to worry about Girl Child, and her ability to take care of herself.
Boy Child, on the other hand, worries me.
Last night he went up against a huge kid. Giant. I turned to the lady next to me and said, "OH MY GOD! WHAT IS THAT KID, LIKE IN COLLEGE?!?!?"
And she said,
"That's my son. He's in fourth grade."
But I do not retract my shock and horror. That kid was freaking huge. He was probably over 5'5" and he had a good seventy-five pounds on Boy Child. His first punch? Knocked Boy Child to the mat.
His next punch? Knocked Boy Child to the mat.
His third punch? Knocked Boy Child to the mat.
His fourth punch? Well you get the freaking idea. The child kissed the floor mat all night.
And he got back up. Every single time, he got back up. He kicked, he punched, he fell down, and he got back up.
It struck me when I was thinking of the whole scenario in my head, that the sparring last night seems to be a pretty good representation of Boy Child's life as a whole so far.
He's an underdog, and always has been, but he seems to accept this fate with grace. He's small, and he knows he's smaller than other kids, but it doesn't bother him. He assumes that everyone will want to be his friend but isn't really bothered when people don't like him. Their loss, he assumes, and he's right.
He struggles. I watch his struggles every day. It's so hard for me as a parent, particularly when one child seems to come by life so effortlessly, to see another child try and fail, try and fail. He pushes himself to the limits of what he can do, and when he falls down, he gets back up again.
Despite this, I worry.
Because he's also sensitive and loving. For Thanksgiving I asked each person what they were most thankful for and he said, thoughtfully, "My sister". If she is not with us, he is concerned about her and how she is, how she's feeling. He worries about me and my feelings. He's a good friend and really, he's a just a good kid. Not perfect, but really, a good, sweet kid.
And unfortunately, I've come to realize more and more that those are the people who get stomped on. That gets their hearts broken and their pocketbooks robbed. Because they do care. Because they do try so hard. Because they want to do their best, want to try so hard.
But Boy Child doesn't see that. And as he was standing before me, sweat on his brow, his little body wrapped in a tiny white suit and huge, ackward red headgear, he grinned through his mouthguard and said,
"Mom! Did you see me? I kicked butt out there!"
Indeed you did Boy Child.
Indeed you do.