Monday, April 2, 2007

Proud Mama

Is it strange that one of the proudest moments in my life was not for myself, but for my ten year old son? I mean, I have had some pretty decent accomplishments in my life: many, many swimming awards, the top Spanish speaker in my high school, birthing my three children at home. But I don't recall having my heart swell with love and pride quite as much as last weekend when I witnessed my first born come in 2nd place in a fencing tournament.

Let me put this in context. We had signed Richard up for this tournament in Pasadena and schlepped all five of us in two cars down the six hour drive, stayed at a crappy hotel just so he could have this experience. I had been praying that he would do his best, have a great time and come away with good memories. Getting into the top 8 in his age group would have been quite an accomplishment, and I was hoping for that.

There were hundreds of fencers on probably more than fifty strips (fencing lingo) in the Pasadena conference center. I did my duty as the fencing mom; following my son around with his equipment, handing him water and snacks in between bouts and being generally supportive. Mind you, my hubby and I were also keeping an eye on our two year old daughter, making sure that she didn't run across the strips during a bout, changing poopy diapers when needed and generally wandering around with her (as two year olds are incapable of staying in one place for more than a few minutes). Rose, our seven year old was perfect and only required minor watching.

As a relative newcomer to the world of fencing, I am still quite baffled by the rules and judging that goes on. Richard has tried to explain it to me but it is obviously over my head. So after each of his bouts at the tournament, I would ask, "How did you do?" I never could tell if he won or lost.

Turns out he got third place in the pools. This is the time when all the fencers in an age group fence all the others and then get ranked. Third place - pretty good! So while first place and second place fencers got to rest during the direct elimination portion (DE's), my beloved son struggled mightily, bout after bout, winning again and again. Granted, he is a head taller than all the other boys, but some of those little ones are quick! Grandma and Grandpa showed up to watch, noooo pressure.....

On to a confusing and scary bout in which an equipment failure allowed Richard's opponent to gain 3 points and win the first round. After ten minutes of umpires or referrees or judges or whatever you call them standing around arguing about whether to start over or let the points stand, they decided to let them stand. And still my boy came back to win! Hooray!

Then a short man with a big nose sidled up to me and said, "So, your son against mine for the championship". Then everything went into slow motion.

"Huh?" I mumbled. "What do you mean?" My vision blurred. My brain struggled to...make...the...connections...It was a surreal moment.

"Weeellll..." he said, looking at me like I was pretty lame, "if your son wins, he gets the gold. If my son wins, he gets the gold."

The GOLD? That means that Richard got second place no matter what? YIIIPPPEEEE! YAHOOOOO! Who cares what happens in the next bout, my son got SECOND PLACE! For the rest of the day (and he did happily lose to the little bugger in the last bout) I walked around with my heart bursting. I was so full of pride in my son!

So, does this mean that I truly, but secretly, am a super-competitive aggro-Mom? Or was I just so relieved that Richard didn't get clobbered and discouraged and want to quit fencing? Do most Moms feel this way? I am choosing to believe that I am very happy for him, that he is so proud of himself for achieving something big all on his own.


Mike said...

Wooo! That's awesome, Sue.

I won't hold my breath waiting for my daughter to dominate any physical competitions, but I'm mighty proud every time she learns a new skill, more proud than I am when I do it myself.