His nerves were palpable. I’ve never felt anxiety so acutely as felt by Oliver. Oliver has been taking classes and training at Nova Ninja for the past year. He outgrew the challenge of the rec classes and wanted to do team training. Part of being on the team is training and competing in competitions however he didn’t want to. So I gave him a year to get comfortable with the expectation that he would try a competition when he was ready. There are always nerves when experiencing something new but I thought the familiarity of his home gym and the support of his coaches would give him some ease. Instead he was paralyzed. He couldn’t warm up and instead quietly watched others running the course. From the moment he started I could tell he simply wanted it over with and moved as quickly as he could from obstacle to obstacle.

After his run he didn’t feel pride that he overcame this challenge, simply relieved it was over with and confident he never wanted to do it again. As a parent I wanted to see him apply his year of training to this challenge and, whatever the outcome, be proud that he did it. With the first one done he’d realized it wasn’t so scary and he’d be more confident and ready to tackle the next.

It’s a hard lesson to learn as a parent, and one we learn anew with each child, that they are their own person. His ability to articulate his anxiety of performing in front of strangers and fear of disappointing me is far greater an indication of the person he will become than his ability to stifle his feelings, run a course while feeling like he wants to puke, just to make me proud.