January 20, 2009

First Year Wrestling...I'm not cut out for this.

My youngest son really wanted to wrestle this year instead of playing basketball, something he's done since he was five-years-old. I think I know why. I also think that very same reason built up some overly ambitious expectations. You see, his cousins (ages 9 & 7) wrestle. One of his good friends (age 8) wrestles. All three of the boys went to State last year and have medals and pins to show for it. This no doubt appealed to my little second grader. Who, after all, doesn't love medals?

The problem, of course, is that my son hasn't been wrestling for 3 - 4 years; he's been playing basketball. He doesn't know the moves, doesn't understand the points system, and doesn't have the skills to counter more experienced wrestlers. The first few weeks he seemed to accept this. That acceptance has diminished. After two tournaments and two resounding losses (aka, no medals), he seems more interested in crying than trying.

This is frustrating. I know this child has a temper and that he's not usually the weepy type. If you know him, I know you've seen determination etched into his little face on the soccer field and on the basketball court. He might not be the best player out there, but by golly he usually gives it his all.

On the mat, though, he's at a loss and instead of channelling his frustration and fighting back, he usually just dissolves into tears. He stops trying. He lets the more experienced kids toss him around and, as my husband says, put his face into the mat. And then he cries about it. He gives up.

As a new wrestling mom, I am frankly appalled by the sport. I don't really care for the ruthlessness I see on and off the mat. I don't like the parents who take their children's loss personally, like the father of the 2nd Place winner who wanted a rematch for 1st place because he felt the other kid won by chance. I don't like the ornery and rude commentary in the stands. Oh, okay. If I'm really honest, I don't like spending all day in a gymnasium with these same people. They piss me off.

Luckily, practices aren't as horrific as the meets. The parents there seem to be sane (for the most part). The coaches take the time to help the kids who are floundering, kids like my son. Some of the more experienced kids even help the newbies learn the moves - although there's always that kid that just wants to prove they're better or tougher or meaner.

I keep telling myself my opinion of the sport will change as my kid gets better (if he ever does). I keep telling myself that when he stops crying at every practice and at every meet, I won't regret letting him try something new. If I thought he was having fun, I might not even mind it as much, but the truth is I think he dislikes it just as much as I do.

Of course, to be fair, the parents of the more experienced kids keep telling me it'll get better. They admit their kids had less than stellar first years, too. And that is the only thing that gives me hope that there might be an end to the tears!