The Crying Games

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“Mom, It was soooo so cool. I made him cry. That is the third time this season!” (jubilantly announced)

I was not sure what to think of my son’s remark about wrestling practice: (in no order, as they all came at once)

1. Mortification that my son is potentially a bully;

2. Amazement that he could make a competitor cry with wrestling moves he has learned;

3. Wondering about the coach, the circumstances, and the situation. What happened, and how did they all handle it?

4. Feeling badly for the 3 boys- Were they hurting physically? Were their feelings hurt?

5. Boys in middle school never cried when I was that age.

6. How in the world is my boy, who has lived with me exclusively for 12 of his 14 years, learning these (seemingly male, because his sister and I don’t do them!) traits? To enjoy competition so much that he is thrilled to make his opponent cry in defeat; to channel surf with annoying skill; to proudly fart at will on the couch sitting next to me; to eat syrupy waffles from his hands while walking across clean floors; and yes, to smile disarmingly when I mention that perhaps a fork would be a good idea for salad?

A different being has replaced my gorgeous tow-headed toddler. How does that happen? Yes, he is not a refined man that I would ever want to let loose in the world as a finished product. He has some “finishing” to do.

Teenagers are miracles- annoying, smelly, perplexing, amazing miracles.

PS-I decided to explain that in the ring, it is very good to be so skilled and intimidating that he might make opponents cry. But outside the ring, never ever ok (he is wrestling, after all, not playing chess- it is a physical competition of mutual consent). He quickly replied- “I know, mom. In the ring, I’m a fighter. But outside the of it, I’m a lover”. And that remark started me on an entirely new trajectory of wondering about how my sweet young son is growing up!!


  1. I decided to explain that in the ring, it is very good to make opponents cry. But outside the ring, never ever ok.

    Well played.

    Martial arts are about respect of your opponent and of yourself. To achieve this end it uses competition. And in competition, there are winners and there are losers.

    1. Thanks Pino! Sometimes it is a tough line, figuring out how to support boys as they grow up and diverge from the “sweet little boy” phase to encourage their competitive spirit in healthy ways.

  2. Oh I can so relate with my 16 and 18 year olds! Especially the “Smelly” part. I hope you had a nice Christmas and all are doing well.

    1. Hi Mark-
      Yes, I bet you can relate to the smelly part, 4 boys is a LOT of dirty socks… : ) We are doing great, had a fabulous holiday and Christmas. I hope you all did too!

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