Be Awesome to Eachother

The following is a post I shared in a private group for the judo dojo my son and I attend. There’s aspects that might only make sense to people who do martial arts, but I think most will appreciate the overarching message—enjoy.

This is a bit of a different post than normal, but I wanted to share an interaction I had with my son last night.

His interest in attending judo has waned a bit in the last few weeks, more reluctant than normal, which is a bit of a surprise. He normally is very eager to go to judo; can't wait to get in the car sometimes, but that's shifted a bit.

I know this is probably a normal progression for little ones, but I've been eager to figure out what was going on with him. We've tried positive motivation, encouraging him with praise, giving constructive feedback, and allowing him the chance to speak up about his questions and concerns. Nothing really seemed to hit home.

On the mat, it feels like he's only giving a partial effort at times, and even though I try to encourage him to push harder, I fail to inspire him.

So last night when he groaned about having to go to judo, I got a bit upset, wondering why he was being so "lazy" about judo, and why he suddenly was giving up on something that he was so passionate about before.

After a lengthy conversation, he admitted that he was bored of just doing the same thing all the time. I reinforced the idea that's been told to us by Sensei and the other teachers that the repetition is what makes up better at judo. He still groaned at the idea, and I think we were both frustrated about the conversation.

After taking a moment to consider his perspective, I asked him if he was frustrated with not being able to do more throws and takedowns. He agreed with that but balked when I repeated that if he put the kind of effort in that I knew he was capable of, he might be making more takedowns.

Then I asked him if, besides being able to throw his opponent, did he know what he was trying to achieve with judo?

He said no.

I paused and then asked if he knew what Sensei and Derek expected of him.

He said no.

I asked if he was frustrated because he didn't know when or how to grow in rank.

He said yes.

Suddenly I was hit with the brick of reality to something I should have known from the start—my son is very motivated by goal-oriented tasks. He needs a finish line in order to stay motivated to the task at hand.

Before I continue, I want to make it clear that we both stand by Sensei's beliefs and decisions about when students deserve to rank up. This is by no means a critique of that strategy.

Perhaps there is a conversation to be had about ways to keep the meandering minds of little ones (and some of us older ones too) to stay engaged while on the mat, but that's a conversation for another time.

My point of this lengthy post isn't to critique my son, but myself. I take my job as a parent very seriously, and I want what's best for him, but I may not always know the answer.

I will say this though; Aidan has been my greatest teacher. Every day he teaches me a new lesson about how to do my job better.

Today's lesson is that I need to do a better job of seeing him for the person he is, instead of the person I want him to be.

When I dwell on that idea, it makes me think that it's a pretty good lesson for how to treat everyone. Even in the LBJD family, there are some wildly varying personalities, and each one driven by their own motivations.

If I look to Aidan as my teacher on this one, it's that I need to do a better job of seeing everyone else as who they are, instead of some preconceived notions about who I believe them to be.