Always a team

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 29, 2022
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When I signed the three elder kids up for Taekwondo last year, I wasn't sure if they would like it but I thought it would make a good holiday activity. Being a PA course, it was also affordable for us because the fees were at $5 per lesson per kid, excluding uniform, grading or any miscellaneous fees. I love the fact that all three of them can be enrolled in the same class as it can be rare due to their different ages.

The class is held weekly near our home at HDB pavilion and these days, they make their way there on their own while I cook for the baby and feed him dinner. Then we would walk over to see what korkor and jiejies are doing in class - too bad the baby is too small to join in! - and all of us would walk home together.

Fast forward to today, it's been over half a year since we started and the kids are enjoying the sport more than expected. To quote their words, "I never knew I would like TKD so much", "I didn't like it so much in the beginning but now, I totally love it" and "I look forward to TKD class every week!".

A big part of the reason behind it is because they are blessed with kind and patient coaches who are strict when discipline is needed yet fun and friendly too. I remember how they let the kids pen notes and record videos on Mother's Day and Father's Day this year which was a thoughtful and sweet initiative. It always warms your heart when others go the extra mile for you, right? For that, we are deeply thankful.

So when the head coach suggested for them to take part in the National Taekwondo Poomsae Champions, all of us were skeptical but we wanted to give it a go because we didn't want to disappoint them. The kids were doubtful of whether they could do it, they didn't think they would work well together and they were even a little fearful of what to expect.

I guess in life, you just have to learn to take a leap of faith, right?

We worked hard in the weeks leading up to the competition. It wasn't always easy and we faced some hurdles along the way. For instance, our poomsae was changed just a fortnight ago as the coaches realised the initial one we practised was not allowed in the competition, and the coaches were not always free to pull them aside to teach them during class as there were other students to care for too. In view of the lack of time and I would say a bit of reluctance from the kids, could we really pull this off?

Not wanting to give up halfway, we made it a point to practise at home whenever we had time. I have to tell you it wasn't as easy or as smooth as it seems because I had a kid who wanted to pull out of the competition, another who couldn't stop criticising the siblings and making them feel inferior, and one who just didn't seem confident enough. Every practice session was filled with bickers, exchange of harsh and mean comments, tantrums and even tears too. 

They didn't seem to gel well as a team and instead of working through the differences, they insisted on their own individual opinions which made things worse when they realised they were totally not in sync. The entire poomsae might be just under a minute but if you wanna do it well as a team, it takes hours, days and weeks. It's truly a case of 台上一分钟,台下十年功. Okay, maybe not so exaggerated but you get my point.

On the day of the competition, we had to arrive over two hours early and as expected, there was plenty of waiting time. We watched some other teams in action and I could see that the kids felt both impressed and intimidated because this was a far cry from their level and we were nowhere as skilled or as synchronised as any of the teams we saw. However, seeing them also gave us hope, hope that we could one day reach that kind of standard and reach beyond what we thought we were capable of.

We took the time to practise for a few more rounds during the wait and even then, the kids were still complaining about each other - too slow, too fast, wrong leg, never kick high enough and so on and so forth. I kept assuring them that we were not expecting to win and all we wanted was for them to put in their effort and give it a go. The learning experience is more important than the outcome, right? After all, it was their maiden attempt and I didn't think we should have overly high expectations. In fact, as long as they completed the steps and didn't freeze or blank out halfway in front of all the judges, that would be satisfactory already.

Check out their performance below!

You can tell that Asher was feeling hesitant at the start and being confused by the yellow box in the middle, he didn't do as per practised to get to his standing position. Of course, the sisters chided him afterwards for it because they had to react impromptuly at the very last minute. However, I was very proud to see that in spite of that, all of them still spontaneously went through the poomsae and didn't forget any step! In fact, they were more synchronised than expected, they gave it all their strength and that was such a good sign. Yup, hard work pays off after all.

The first reaction they had when they got off the arena was to say "We surely won't win any medal." Oh come on, guys, have a little faith in each other and most importantly, in yourself, okay? The coaches and I already knew the results beforehand but we kept it under wraps till the last moment.

Can you imagine their surprise when they found out that they won 2nd place and were going to receive silver medals? Sure, there weren't that many participants in their category - four in total - but winning a medal, regardless of colour, was the icing on the cake that would boost their confidence and inspire them to go further in this journey.

Dear Angel, Ariel and Asher,

Congratulations on your achievement! While I am proud to see that you won medals, what heartens me most is that you persevered till the end and didn't give up halfway. The first time is always the hardest but you guys did it together.

Once a team, always a team. I hope the three of you realise that you have always been a team way before this competition. That is because you are siblings, and siblings make the strongest team because you will always love, protect and care for one another.

It doesn't mean that a team has to always see eye to eye. Nope, I think this experience has taught you that conflicts are bound to happen when you work together. The key is not to avoid them but to resolve them one by one. 

Papa reminded you that a team is only as strong as its weakest link so your job is not to pull each other down but to lift each other up. Encourage, motivate, teach and be a patient mentor, just like how your coaches guide you too. Don't let frustration take over you, learn to hold your tongue, think positively, give credit when credit is due and always, always have each other's back.

Having siblings is one of the greatest blessings in life and the best team you could ever ask for. May this be the start of an amazing journey for all three of you. We love you to the moon and back and we'll always be your best supporters.

Love, Mama


Heartfelt thanks to all the coaches for the loving guidance and for your reassuring presence that day. Till our next learning experience!


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