Lessons from My Kid

My son's jiu-jitsu gym.

My son’s jiu-jitsu gym.

In the final week of school, each student has to choose their own topic and “teach” the class in a brief lesson. My 9-year-old son chose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, an activity that he’s been doing two to three times a week since last summer.

As we rode in the car, he chattered from the back seat about how he was going to go about the lesson. “First, I’m going to teach them to fall, like Professor Beto taught me in my first lesson,” he said.

“And why do you teach that first?” I asked, thinking that he’d say that it was for safety.

“Because falling is not failing,” he said matter-of-factly. “That’s the most important thing to know. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good life lesson, too.”

I was floored. I was probably in my twenties before I figured that out. And now my kid has enough knowledge that he can create his own motivational posters. I can envision “falling is not failing” hanging in a conference room with a picture of a skydiver.

The next week, he had a chess tournament. They sent out instructions beforehand that basically said, a) you can’t be in the room during the tournament, because of helicopter parents, and b) please remind your kid that one person will win and one will lose in each match, so please help them understand that losing a match isn’t the end of the world and please tell them not to freak out if they do.

I was curious to see what his philosophy was, so I summarized the email for him as we rode to the competition. He laughed. “Oh, I know the kids they’re referring to!”

“Does a competition like this stress you out?” I asked.

“No!” he said in a tone that implied that I was crazy for asking. “Why would it stress me out? This is how I learn. If I lose the first match, then hopefully I’ll learn something that makes me better for the next one. I don’t have to be the best. I just need to be a little bit better every day.”

I like to think that with his guidance, I’m getting a little bit better every day.

Do your kids have any words of wisdom?

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