The best thing to give ... to a friend, your heart, to your child, a good example... to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you, to yourself, respect, to all men, charity.
It was Francis Maitland Balfour who said that, and I think I would have liked him. Not only was he a gifted scientist but he was also a person who did not live his life in fear and conformity. He wrote books that intertwined Darwin's theory and his own observations as a biologist, but died about the time his career was beginning to take off, trying to climb a mountain that had never been scaled.
I wonder why I never noticed before how much good life has in it.
This weekend, I was at the All-Women's Tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had a chance to spend time with friends from around the country and got to know some people a little better who I think I would like as friends. It was a great idea having an All-Women's Tournament, an idea turned into reality by a whole cast of women and some really wonderfully supportive men. As Stacy Knapp said, this is the one tournament where, if someone hugs you after a match, you know she really means it.
All of us were good examples this weekend of what we want our children to be. The coach certification clinic ran until 9:30 p.m. Thirty coaches stayed to learn more about keeping women and girls in sports, physical conditioning, drill training and matwork techniques. They modeled the dedication and concern they want their students to emulate. Children learn what they live. I am sure that is why my daughter at age two was pretending to read Wired magazine. Not sure what to make of her writing all over her stomach in that photo; I have decided to blame it on her sisters getting tattooed.
The other day, another friend commented that,
"Raising good children might just be something you enjoy in retrospect."
I am proud of my children, for a whole host of reasons. They are not yet so old, though, that I don't remember the screaming fights when they told me that I was ruining their lives and that I did not understand anything and accused me of having children only so I could make them do the dishes. I think that bumper sticker is right,
"By the time your children are fit to live with, they are living with someone else."
There is justice, though. Maria is pregnant. Ronda is coming home for a few weeks and will be helping her little sister improve her harai goshi. Ten bucks says that when Julia argues,
"Well that's not how I do it."
Ronda will come back with the old mom line of,
"Well, you know what that means then? It means you are doing it wrong!"
Charity? This weekend, an amazingly generous person handed me $2,000 to help women's development in judo. It paid for the hotel rooms and meals for our team from California and will pay for rooms next month for some of the women competing in the USJA Winter Nationals.
I know that some people in the world have really horrible lives, are sleeping in cold mud, with no food to eat and only lice for company. The vast majority of people, though, especially in this country, are more like me. They have lives of a level of comfort that would have seemed incredibly magical to most of the people who have ever lived in the entire history of the world and they are sullen because they have to get up off the couch and look for the remote control.
How do we ever fail to notice that we are surrounded by the best things in life?
--------REQUIRED JUDO TIP -------------------------
When teaching young children or beginners forget all of that stuff about strategy, grip-fighting and tactics. Concentrate on basic technique.
It takes a long time to learn to throw well, turnovers, combinations and counters. Many people who coach young children focus on making their kids 'tough' so they can knock down the other kids. Some of those 'not so tough' kids get discouraged and quit. Others eventually get tougher and when they start throwing the ones who used to beat them, the tough kids have nothing to fall back on and quit, too. Kids can get in good shape in a few months if you push them a bit. It takes a couple of years for a child to learn good technique.
My friends, the Sanchezes, have a different view. Not wrong, just different. They teach in an area with high mobility and, understanding that, realize they seldom will have kids with them for five or six years. Eric said, "We teach junior judo. This kid may only be here for two years, so I want him to be successful and have a good time while he is in judo. Then, maybe he will come back to it when he is older, or maybe when he has kids, he'll put his kids in judo. If not, he got to win some and have a good time for a couple of years as a kid. What could be wrong with that?"