My sister swears that it is an inevitable side effect of being Catholic. I am not so sure about her explanation, but I definitely have an overabundance of guilt.
I don't feel guilty about the things I did that some people think I should feel guilty about, like telling them that they know less judo than the hairball Ronda's cat coughed up this morning or suggesting that maybe my children aren't mean, theirs just need to train harder.
No, I feel guilty about the things I DIDN'T do. Take Friday, for example. I got in to work earlier than usual, finished up the documentation on SPSS, uploaded the rest of an 11 GB dataset for testing and stayed more than eight hours, even though it was the day before a three-day weekend and half the people in the building were gone by 2 p.m. Then, I came home, did the dishes and, since the weather was so nice, I took Julia to the park to play baseball for an hour.
After that, I vacuumed the living room, cleaned the guinea pig cages, put medicine on them for mange mites, since their hair has been falling out, and made them little houses out of shoe boxes because they might be bored. Besides, I felt kind of bad since it had taken the mange medicine we ordered over the Internet a week to show up and I didn't order it right away because the first guinea pig that started losing its hair is kind of neurotic and I read somewhere it could be stress or overgrooming. Then, when Edward G. Robinson started losing his hair, I concluded it was mange mites because if Edward was part of judo, he would be ju no kata done by an old lady, while Ali, the other guinea pig, would be that crazy person that comes out flailing around in randori and pokes you in the eye. So, yes, I even feel guilty about the guinea pigs, even though they are the size of a shoebox, have about the same IQ and enjoy a better diet, medical care and housing than many people in third world countries.
After the work, baseball, housecleaning and guinea pig care, what I felt the most guilty about was judo. Julia had missed judo on Wednesday because she was sick and I didn't take her on Friday because - well, because the weather was nice and baseball at the park seemed like a fun idea. Then, after having been gone for ten hours already today, just going out to a nice Italian dinner with the family seemed like a good idea.
Over the years, I have coached many children who were eight to twelve years old who could have won the junior national championships or state championships. However, they just didn't show up at practice that often. I remember a couple of girls in particular who showed up once a week. If they had just come to judo two or three times a week regularly they would have beaten everyone. Their parents used to shrug when I brought it up and say,
"They like to do other things."
Their children were in basketball, dance and music programs. Other kids over the years have been in science fair, robotics, baseball, wrestling, school plays and probably chess club. With three girls close in age and, for much of their childhood, a husband who was ill, or as a single parent, my older children did not have the option of being in many activities simultaneously. They had to pick one. Still, they did a lot of activities - track, ballet, tap, cheer-leading, swimming, soccer, piano lessons, bassoon and probably some others I don't remember. My little Julia has been in ballet, hip-hop, karate, gymnastics, debate club, Spanish class and, of course, judo.
Yet, it is only judo that I feel guilty not taking her to practice. While judo DOES provide good exercise for her, so does baseball, and we had a lot of fun at the park playing baseball.
Maybe I feel guilty because I don't make her practice as often as some of the kids she competes against, just like those girls years ago, who "liked to do other things", and she doesn't always win because she doesn't practice as often as some kids. Still, I don't feel too guilty, because I see so many of those kids quit after a year or two and Julia is still going to judo. It hasn't all coalesced yet. She still attacks off balance sometimes and gets countered. She doesn't always transition from standing to matwork the way she should. But, hey, she turned ten in March.
Maybe I am not always at practice, either, but I have been around for 37 years doing judo in one way or another. It's like something my grandmother told me over forty years ago, when she was explaining how marriage can last. She said when people think they fall in love is like when you first throw wood on a fire, it flares up, you have a bright flame and it is really hot. After the flame burns down, though, you have coals and they keep you warm for hours. The only way to keep those high flames is to throw more and more wood on the fire. She said being married is like that and some women are always looking for another person and another one to keep that flame going. She said,
"Those women are just stupid."
So, I think I will just keep going to practice when I can, and take Julia when I can, and enjoy it, and try not to feel so guilty when I don't take her. They don't have an Olympics for ten-year-olds, or for grandmothers like me, either. You know, I think that is a good thing.
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I have been neglecting these for a while.... here is a good drill we did at the training center today.
As I say over and over, most people's matwork is too slow and not reactive enough. Try this drill:
Get in a group of three. Two people are on their hands and knees. The third person has to do a turnover on the right side of each one, then the left side of each one, going back and forth. Time how many they can do in a minute or how quickly they can do ten turnovers. The timing is an important aspect of this drill, because one of the weaknesses, I have pointed out, is that most people are doing these too slowly. Having three people works well because most judo players being somewhat assertive, the person you are NOT doing the turnover on who is just waiting is usually not quietly impatient, thus giving the person performing the turnovers additional incentive to hurry up, in addition to the fact that he or she is being timed. We did this today with a half-nelson, but you could do it with any matwork technique.