I took L and Z yesterday morning to test for their 2nd and 1st yellow belt stripes. They both passed, which, of course, we're all happy about. But the reason I'm so proud of is Z.
For those who don't know, Z was born missing the confidence gene. It doesn't help that he and L are only 1 year apart, the same size, and L is confident and coordinated. By the time we'd made the 20 minute drive to Judo yesterday morning, Z was almost in tears from nerves. He told me his stomach hurt, he told me he got embarrassed when he had to do things in front of people, he asked what would happen if he did things wrong, he told me he couldn't remember how to do anything, especially Kata Gatame, he told me he hadn't tested in a long time. All of this was said with his eyes welling up with tears, a quivering bottom lip, and face that was pale. He was really pulling at my Mommy heartstrings, and I considered telling him it was okay and he didn't have to test, but I knew how proud he'd be if he passed, so I refrained. Instead I told him that I got nervous when I tested, that the worst thing that would happen would be that he didn't pass and that would be fine, and other things to try and settle him down.
Once we got into the gym, he sat next to me, asking what he'd have to do. I showed him Kata Gatame, explained what Sensei would do, and we watch a little girl begin her test for her yellow belt. Halfway through her test, Sensei called Z out to be her uke (this is the person who gets thrown). This helped Z settle down a bit. Sensei went right into Z's test, and he started naming things for Z to do. With a lot of the things Sensei named, I got nervous because Z and I hadn't gone over them and it had been a long time since we worked on them in class. But Z was almost flawless, doing almost all of the throws, counters, turnovers, and holds without Sensei having to translate to English (all of the names are given in Japanese) or give hints about what they were.
Z finished, and came over and sat next to me. He was beaming. His eyes were sparkling. His confidence meter was turned up just a bit. He told me Sensei told him he did one of the best bridge and rolls he'd ever seen from a little guy. Then he said, "A funny thing happened while I was out there. Sensei would tell me what to do, and before I could even think about it I was doing it." I told him I was proud of him for trying and going out on the mat. I hope he remembers how well he did, and I hope that his confidence meter stays turned up, even if just a slight bit.