Pipo started wrestling this past month... fulfilling a long time dream of his wrestling coach dad... to have one of his boys finally out there on the mat. When Pipo first came here, one of our biggest battles with him was teaching him sportsmanship. With both Fitz and I having coached varsity sports, it is pretty high on our list. Unsportsmanlike behavior is simply not tolerated.
In those first seasons of Little League and soccer, we had many battles. I actually pulled Pipo off the soccer field in the middle of a game once, telling him "if you aren't going to play like a team player then you don't belong on the team." Several times we made him write apology notes to coaches about his behavior before letting him go back to the team. He's come a long way in three years, and we have been so proud of him. But there are still those moments, and he still hates to lose.
Wrestling seemed to me the perfect venue to work on this. There is nothing to teach you losing better than losing individually, under a spotlight, in front of a crowd, while wearing spandex. Talk about throwing a kid to the lions. We talked to Pipo about how this is his first year... it's a tough league, and he will probably lose a lot... maybe always this season. Last week the team had it's first match, competing against two very tough towns. Pipo lost both matches, but made us incredibly proud, by holding his head high, and continuing to cheer on his team for the rest of the long match.
I wondered how he would be going into the match this week. I worried that he would be discouraged, not be excited to get out there. But he surprised me by his good mood on the way to the match. He lost his first match, and again made me proud by coming off the mat with his head held high.
But the second match... I'm not sure I could ever describe my emotions accurately here. He battled through the first period, and quickly into the second period had his opponent on his back. When the referee slapped the mat, I just sat staring, not quite sure what had actually happened. Then I heard our team's bench go wild... all these young boys screaming for Pipo who had gotten his first pin.
I know I went into this whole experience wanting Pipo to learn how to be a good loser, but I am not sure who was happier about this win today, him or his mom.
I think back three years ago to this sickly, spindly legged kid with the bloated belly. The boy his dad had to carry up the stairs at night, because he was too weak to climb them. The boy who couldn't even climb up into our van. The boy who received a bicycle for his first ever birthday party at 9 years old, but needed to be pushed, because he didn't have the strength to pedal.
That boy pinned his opponent today. And it was all I could do not to scream "That's my son!!!" and embarrass him beyond belief. But I didn't. I just sat there quietly, trying not to cry and embarrass myself beyond belief. That's my son.