Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fear of losing?

Aiman had the heats for his swimming gala yesterday. He talked about nothing else all week this week and last week. He talked about winning. He talked about getting the trophy and the medal. To him, there was no in between.

Which parents would not want their child to succeed, but, we learnt from last year's experience that winning isn't everything. It would only pressure him too much. So, my hubby and I told him that we would be proud of him if he wins, but, even if he doesn't, we will just be happy if he just completes the race this year. Last year, he stopped midway in the pool and cried when he realised that he was losing (August 29, 2007 - Expect the unexpected).

We spent the last one month psyching him up mentally and physically for the race. Each Sunday morning my hubby would take him to the swimming pool to practice. We kept telling him that we would like him to complete the race, even if he is going to end up last, and that we would still be proud of him. But, he kept insisting that he was going to win.

We were afraid that he might get disappointed if he lose, but, not wanting him to think that we have no confidence in him winning, we told him that we would be very happy if he wins, but still be equally happy either way. We did not want to put pressure on him. We just wanted him to enjoy the experience of being in a competition.

It was actually his own initiative to join the swimming gala, and we supported his decision. Early this year, when I asked him if he was going to join the gala this year, he said no, so we didn't insist, but, two days before the closing date, he brought back the entry form and told my hubby to sign.

Even while my hubby was filling in the entry form, I asked him again if he was really serious, and whether he was going to finish the race. He said that he was going to win! We are proud of his high ambition and confidence, and so, we gave him all the moral support he needed.

On Thursday night, he complained of a stomachache. Even after I had put oil and massaged his tummy, he was still feeling uncomfortable. We realised then that he was nervous about the heats the next day. Again, we assured him that we will be just as equally happy even if he finish last, as long as he completes the race. Again, he kept insisting that he was going to win. Yet, he was a nervous wreck that night, and he is only eight!

He was also nervous that Friday afternoon when I went to pick him up at my MIL's house to bring him to the heats. He kept on clinging to me and wouldn't let me go. I kept assuring him that he will be OK, but, as the time drew nearer to the heats, he was getting even more jittery.

I had a 3.00pm meeting to chair that afternoon, and so had to leave him. But, my hubby and I had already agreed that we would take turns to come and give him moral support, even though my hubby also had a meeting that afternoon. We were only told about the heats the day before, so I could not change the date of my meeting at the last minute.

I left when I saw my hubby arriving, but not before I wished my son good luck, kissed him and told him that he will be OK. I explained to him why I had to leave, and he understood. My hubby told me that when he got to the pool, my son was already so nervous that his face had started to turn red, and he looked like he was about to cry.

Even when his friends was giving him encouragement, it was almost obvious that he was not going to compete even in the heats. His cheeks were streaming with tears as he stood at the edge of the pool at the starting line, despite my hubby's encouraging words and assurance.

When it seemed like he was going to be holding up the other participants, my hubby pulled him to the side, and his teachers came to give him assurance, but, by then, he had already made up his mind that he was not going to compete. It seemed like he had already given up even before trying. He wanted to win so much, but, I guess, when he saw how the others swam, he probably felt that he wouldn't be able to win, and to him, probably, anything less then winning was simply too much to bear.

I wish I knew what exactly was running through his mind at that time. I did asked him when I met him that evening, but he just said that he just did not want to compete. I just hope that it has nothing to do with the fact that I wasn't there for him when he was about to compete, even though my hubby was around.

My hubby and I gave him all the moral support that he needed to boost his confidence the night before the heats. We reminded him that we would rather have him race and not win, then to not race at all, because he kept asking us what if he doesn't win. We kept telling him that winning isn't everything, but participating is what is important.

I was late for my meeting that day, and so was my hubby. We made the trip all the way to his school for the heats, so, our first reaction was one of disappointment when he suddenly chickened out even before starting, especially when it was he who wanted to compete in the Gala in the first place. We never pushed him for it. *sigh*

I must agree with Mel that, even as parents, we are still learning, and that there is no hard or fast rule about parenting. The ones learning is always us first! I think we're more blur as parents than as kids. I only wish I knew what was going through his mind, so that we can better understand him, and understand where we went wrong......

Whatever it is, Aiman, please know that we love you!


Emily said...

Forget about swimming for next year... how about golf? Less pressure on him!

Datin Nik Zaharah said...

I think both of you are being overly possesive and anxious. Children should be allowed some kind of freedom. Even if I put myself in Aiman's shoes I would back out last minute. I would be afraid to loose and dissappoint you both. Both of you seem to expect him to excel.Please relax and let him do things at his own pace. He will be alright.

Za said...

Thanks for the advice, Ma, but we did not push him to take part in the gala. It was his own initiative.

When he wanted to join, we gave him our moral support. At the same time, we told him that even if he doesn't win, it's OK, because winning isn't everything. But it was he himself that didn't want anything less than winning.

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