I had an opportunity yesterday to see fathering, mothering, parenting. It’s kind of nice to be an observer, and to be astute enough to appreciate what it is I witness.
I was asked by a father to “review” a young son for martial arts. I don’t know how familiar most people are with martial arts in small town America, and possibly larger town America. It is not a business in the traditional sense. A place needs secured to hold class, tuition is charged, but most instructors are not making money on what they are providing. If they’re lucky the tuition is paying for the rent. I know we, and most instructors I have ever met, have spent money out of our/their own pockets to keep our/their schools open during lean times. Because students wanting to learn keeps the fire burning in us all. Most instructors who are running small town America do jangs (training halls) are doing so not to make money, but to pass along knowledge, skill, tenets and personal growth with others who wish to learn the benefits of martial arts. The benefits are as vast as what your desires are: self defense, self discipline, respect, loyalty, patience, peace, and knowledge. And more.
Often is the case that you have parents who are working full time jobs, involved in their own children’s educations/lives/needs who are also running martial arts schools. As a result, the parent/the instructor, is in yet another role in their child’s life. A little different. A lot the same. It’s always about being the parent. It’s sometimes about having yet another role.
I went yesterday and my role was minor. My role was in passing. But in my role I witnessed things that I have always believed and it’s wonderful when I see it, hear it, know it exists in places other than my heart and my beliefs.
At one point Father asks Son “who is my best friend?” Son replies “God”. Father had to restate his question, it wasn’t the answer Father expected, but he knew Son was right. Son knew the answer because he knows his Father. Father and I both smiled. We were talking about one thing specific, but it didn’t change the answer Son knew about his Father.
Our discussion was prompted by the task at hand. Should Son test, or should he work a little longer and get a little stronger.
And there I stood. I said my piece. And I watched Father speak with Son. Son is eleven. I watched as Father spoke to Son with respect. Admiration. And encouragement. He spoke to his son in a way we often forget to speak to our children, he addressed him as a person. A person with a struggle. A person unsure of what to do and how to handle it. I watched as Father spoke softly, calmly, strongly.
And though Son was wanting “something” very much (to test for a new ‘belt level’) he wanted something else to not happen. If he did not test, if he was not ready, he did not want to disappoint his Father.
He did not.
And there, not in the background, but very much in the forefront, was Mother. Mother who stood strongly and quietly behind her Husband and their Son, as they worked through this moment. Mother, who as any Mother must, felt something of her own struggle. Watching her Son struggle with doing what was right, but knowing it hurt him to do so. Mother who acknowledged Son’s very mature decision but seeing her very young child’s heart ache. Together I watched as Parents allowed Son to work through his own answers. His own moments of taking such a small step, but a small step with courage. Maybe at 11 you’re a little wobbly making these decisions. But at 11 Parents don’t reach out and scoop up Son as they might have when he stoop upon little legs that had never walked before. Parents knew the stumbling then, and needing caught, was different than his stumbling now. They could watch safely, from a little distance, as he took a wobbly step. And even if he falls, they don’t have to scoop him up. Maybe now they can reach out a hand to help pull him back up. But sometimes it’s okay that he falls.
If we’re lucky in our roles as parents we have a partner. Someone who helps with the diaper changing. The bottle feeding. The bedtime reading. The church attending. The homework doing. And when you haven’t much hair left to pull out the parent partner steps in and pulls out a little more of what’s left of their hair.
If we are blessed we have a partner who is a partner through everything difficult as parenting. Where you share the same beliefs. You support each other’s decisions. You work through hard decisions together to come to the best answer you can for your child. Parents who show love to, with and in front of their children. Parents who recognize a child’s big moments and spend the time to acknowledge and appreciate those moments.
It’s kind of nice, watching Parents, parent.