We spent the last weekend at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine Texas at the Dallas International Taekwondo Hanmadang. The what you say? Yep, a hanmadang, which we learned means "big field", usually associated with festivals, family, and community. It was that, and it was more.
It was Ainsley's debut in a taekwondo tournament. We aren't sure really how Master Adrian talked her into it, but Ainsley agreed to jump in and join her brother and sister in a real tournament. Now, she's watched many (if not a hundred) of her sibling's tournaments, but never has participated. This time, with really nary a nervous twitch, Ainsley stepped onto the mat and did both forms and sparring.
The conversation leading up to the tournament went like this. Ainsley "I'm pretty sure I don't want to do this". Mom and Dad, "you don't have to, but you promised Master Adrian". Ainsley "Okay". Then the day of the tournament in a very adult manner, Ainsley says "I don't want to go out there". Mom and Dad, "it's a good chance to practice being like a cheerleader, they have to stand out in front of lots of crowds and perform". Ainsley, "oh, okay".
Forms went okay, she forgot a lot of it, but bravely carried on. Then we got to the sparring part. She stepped out there full of confidence. Within about 10 seconds, that disappeared. The little girl she was up against had obviously done this many times before. Ainsley quickly turned into the proverbial punching bag. She kept going. The other girl scored 5 points, 10 points, 15 points, and then the ultimate most horrible thing happened (in Ainsley's eyes), the girl accidentally kicked her in the head. Finally, our Ainsley showed up. She cried, then promptly turned to the ref and yelled, "she's not supposed to kick me in the head". Unfortunately, the tears had started, and they didn't stop. Master Adrian gracefully conceded the match almost a full round early.
I don't know about Mark, but many emotions flitted through my brain. OMG, we are horrible parents, how could we do this to her? Wow, what a great punching bag she is! Ainsley is so brave to keep going. This will be the end of her very short TKD career. Oh my goodness, that family from TKD that came to watch how tournaments work will never, ever, sign up their kids after this. That's my baby, ohhh, that had to hurt. A million thoughts in less than a minute. It was harrowing. It was miserable. It was good.
Good? Yes, because it was a "great learning experience". I know, the ultimate cliche. And, because Ainsley and the other girl were the only ones in the division, Ainsley ended up in 2nd place, and she got a trophy. Her first. A trophy that she is SO excited about (see Flickr pics). And, it was good based on the kids reviews. Master Adrian asked the kids on Monday, "hey kids, was that water park (at the Gaylord) fun or what"? The answer? "No not really, we had more fun at the tournament". Enough said.
The weekend was a success. It turns out that it wasn't because we spent Sunday at the new Gaylord Texan water park, swimming, hula hooping, getting fake tattoos, and winning dance contests (yep, Graham won). The weekend was a success because each kid tried their best, and in doing so, felt like they were on top of the world. You can't beat that.