My youngest today was puffing on a straw like it was a cigarette. I asked her what she was doing, playing innocent. She said she was pretending she was using one of those white things that’s orange on one end and has smoke coming out the other. I asked her not to act like she was smoking a cigarette because smoking cigarettes are bad. Because she is my future lawyer, she asked a clarifying point – I was just saying smoking was bad for kids, right? I told her it is also bad for adults. She then asked the really important kid question, “then why do they do it?”

I know why my dad smoked. And, I’m starting to understand it even more on days like today. When my dad was nervous, he smoked….a lot. It was something to help keep him calm, if you asked him. Ask a scientist, and they will give you all of the medical reasons this is untrue – but don’t get into that debate with a smoker. Trust me on that one.

You usually saw my dad doing his chain smoking, calming thing during our sporting events. If my brother was pitching in baseball, my dad was cheering, smoking and pacing. If I was up to bat or running in cross-country, a quick glance to Dad would verify he was pacing, smoking, and cheering for me. I now totally understand why he does it. You want your kids to succeed. You want the hard work to pay off. While you don’t want to deny them the lessons in life (like how to lose), you want them to understand the feeling of winning.

Tonight both girls test in Tae Kwondo. The oldest is testing for her purple belt, otherwise known in our house as the “half-way to black” belt. She has also raised the bar for herself by saying she wants to get another Outstanding Student patch. This means she has a perfect test. I know she can do it….I want her to achieve her goal. The youngest tests for her yellow belt. This is her first belt test. She and her fellow white belt students are all too young to do the forms, so they have to do a discipline form instead. She has put less pressure on herself than the oldest, but I chalk that up to age.

And, this Saturday, I’ll be cheering the oldest on in her first tournament. She has entered the Sparring competition. I love it that she has found joy in beating people up in a competitive way, but am interested to see how she does. Less on her win-loss performance, but more on her overall mental performance. This is the first competition where she wants to win. She practices the kicks, she practices on me, and she is truly improving each day. In soccer, she will always say “I want us to win”, but you don’t see it the way we do in Tae Kwondo. So, this is new ground for us.

During it all, I will be thinking about my dad. He and I are a lot alike in how we react to nervousness….except while I pace, I’ll be chewing gum.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Good answer! I will have to remember that if DB asks me.

    Good luck to the girls this weekend!

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