Keeyaaa Is My New Parental Battle Cry
I am good at almost everything that I do. Partly because I am an overachiever. But mostly because, like most adults, I gradually stopped doing things that I am not good at over time. While some of you have not accepted you are not a jack of all trades, I eagerly stay in my lane.
However, when it comes to children, they have no lanes yet. The world, and all its activities are wide open. Sure, as the parent you can “try” to determine what they “might” be good at. But your best bet is to just let them try any and everything. Eventually their preferences and abilities will guide them to what they like. Simple enough right?
But it is never that simple.
Being a parent, largely, means overcoming the idea you must base your level of success in raising your child off their accomplishments in life.
Doing so requires you to play the line of expecting them to give their best and understanding that their best may still land them at the bottom of the totem pole.
Enter my very active 3-year-old and his first extracurricular activity.
Martial Arts at Kingi’s Kajukenbo in Inglewood. It is thirty minutes of Little Ninjas aged three to four trying to pay attention and yelling “Keeyaaa”.
My son, after two months of twice weekly meetings, no longer randomly flops to the floor or lifts his shirt at random moments.
He has gone from actively listening for five minutes to paying attention almost twenty-five minutes.
He is excited to go and often practices when we are at home.
But he has no clue what he is doing.
While the other children punch with force and kick with purpose, my kid is barely lifting his leg from the floor and needing assistance with his positioning regularly.
And I could not be prouder of us.
Yes, us. Because while he is learning the valuable lesson of being able to focus and control his body. I am learning the more valuable lesson that I cannot fill is imperfection with my perfectionism. That him coming out of class with a smile on his face, because he is excited he got a high five from his grandmaster, is so much more important than him mastering his first sequence.
We are both getting participation trophies, and we both deserve them.
That doesn’t change that other children already have their yellow stripe. They earned them, he has not.
Or that when they ask who the best in the class is, he doesn’t raise his hand. He doesn’t even know what is being asked. And I am okay with that, too.
It is easy as adults, and more specifically parents, to forget when we enjoyed things without worrying whether we were excelling at them. It can be even more difficult to admit when we flat out sucked at things. It can feel impossible to not feel peer pressure for your child when the world of parenting is putting pressure on you. But I refuse pass that energy to my child. I am learning to recognize where they are and lift them up from there.
I’m grateful to be given this lesson so early. Before his first debate tournament, soccer game or art contest. Before I had the opportunity to get attached to the idea of him being some special wonder child able to dominate everything. Before I allowed myself to believe I have the Midas touch and all children I touch will be gold.
He will struggle, he will improve, and he will likely succeed as much as he fails.
None of that has to do with how much I love him, support him, or believe in him. Win, lose, or draw, if he is proud of himself, happy, and trying, when it comes to celebrating him. I will be the gladly be the loudest in the stands.
Like him, I will Keeyaaa, even if I don’t get to yell often.