Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MMA and Braces and More MMA

Because a couple of you have expressed concern, we will certainly not make Gary give up MMA for braces. I'm hearing different things about whether he can be safe with braces and a special mouth guard. I am thinking about telling him that if he wants to find out if that would work for him we could make an appointment with the orthodontist and ask. I don't think it came up when they were there before. I don't know for sure because Roland was the one who took him.

Right now MMA is the most important thing in the world to him.

I did tell you that he is incredibly fantastic right? And that I know this because he tells me so? He goes to the gym (I am told that it no one there calls it a "dojo") four times a week. He earns his lessons by cleaning the gym after. He is very proud of the fact that he is paying for his own lessons.

If I was good at remembering these sorts of things I am sure I could tell you in exactly what way he is fantastic and which ways the other people are able to beat him. I can tell you though that these other guys beat hime only because there is this one particular move (different ones for different guys) that he hasn't learned to defend against, or have longer legs, or are stronger and have studied longer than he has. This does not, however, make them better. Gary is the most talented young player anyone has ever seen and in a month or two he will be able to bring down all those guys. Well, maybe not ALL of them, but most of them.

'Cause he's the best.

Honestly, I prefer to have a teenager who unrealistic picture of himself in a positive direction. I wish he had some of the same confidence with things like writing.

He is complete focused on the competition this summer. The gym will have some fund raising and the agency will help him, but even so that leaves an estimated $900. Now we are good for part of that, but he still needs to get a job or figure out another way to raise money. He is looking for a job, but those are not easy to come by at the moment. Yesterday he learned that there are such things as grants, so he spent quite a bit of time on the Internet trying to find one that would help a sixteen-year-old go to a tournament.

He also has been trying to find cheaper housing. The tournament is at a convention center and of course everyone is staying there. He has found some cheaper housing, but it only works if everyone is willing to do it. He was very excited when he told me about it, and I just nodded. I didn't tell him that they probably wouldn't want to go. I remember when I went to a professional convention very close to my brother and sister in law's. SIL was very confused and sad that I let the college pay my expensive hotel bill instead of staying with her, but staying with them and taking a taxi to the convention would not be the same. I wanted to go to evening sessions, be able to take a nap in the afternoon, and eat dinner with people I had not seen for a year. This tournament is not a youth event. It is an adult event with some youth competitions. I think the adults who are going are going to want to be there, where everything is happening.

But I digress. The point is that he is putting lots of creative energy into figuring out how to pay for this, and/or reduce the costs of it. A lot of what he comes up with is unrealistic, but Faber and Mazlish (authors of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk) convinced me long ago that it is best to let kids pursue these plans. They tend to learn stuff along the way.

I didn't do such a good job of keeping my mouth shut when he was talking about getting a sponsor. I finally asked who he thought might sponsor him. I was kind, really I was, but I was also confused. It didn't seem to me that a local business would give him a lot of money in return for putting their name on his back because the competition was so far away that it wasn't going to help them. "That's why I need to get a national sponsor."

"Okay, but why would they sponsor a sixteen-year-old who for all they know could get eliminate in pre-competition trials?"

"I won't get eliminated!" (Insert here explanation about good he is).

"Sure, but a national sponsor won't know that. If they are going to sponsor a youth at all, they will probably sponsor one who has already competed."

He acknowledged that was probably true.

Still he hasn't given up. He will find a way.

Although when I suggested taking the snow shovel around door to door he said that would be his "plan b." I did point out that the snow was not going to be here in June.

Sometimes all this gets to Roland. Of course, he is the one who drives him home from the gym and so has a full 20 minutes four days a week of this. I probably hear as much or more than he does, but in smaller spurts and usually while I am able to do something else like cooking dinner. Besides, I find it just a little bit cute. Roland is more ... flabbergasted.

The guy who got Gary set up with this work-for-lessons thing is the job-services guy. He used to be heavily into martial arts, and has the damaged knees to prove it. He wants for Gary to be able to do this, and I suspect he will work hard to help him find a way to raise the money, hopefully by helping him and the other kids in the program actually find jobs.

It is possible that after the competition this summer he may decide that he can back off serious competition for a couple of years and get the braces. Or he might not ever get the braces and then need dentures when he is sixty. As I told the social worker, I'm not going to worry too much about that. When he is sixty I will be dead. Cause Gary says I'm already old.

Seriously, the little twerp yesterday informed me that based upon his mother's age when he was born and my age when his mother was born I could be his grandmother!

"If I had given birth to her when I was like, what, thirteen or fourteen?"

"I know girls who had babies at fourteen."


  1. Ack! Insults! Little booger. Teen boys and egos. I get to hear it too, and like you, I nod and go along. Interjecting reality has a way of shutting down the "communication". You are such a good mom. Really and truly.

  2. You know the sponsorship thing isn't that bad an idea. I don't know about your region and I get the impression it might be a smaller community than I live in, but maybe a sporting goods store, work out apparel place, hey even a natural foods store that sells protein powders and fitness drinks etc. It wouldn't be big I bet, but maybe $25 here, $25 there kind of thing.

  3. Testing to see if I can post.

  4. Okay, looks like I can post from home (but not work). I say he should go for it. Check out some articles about my friend Grace who got sponsors--local AND national--for two east coast marathons (plus she ran some local ones). We live in Wisconsin!

    I was there while she got these sponsorships. She just wrote letters, talked to friends and family who owned businesses, and bit by bit got small sponsorships. And then some national news attention (also was on the radio a few times). She wrote interesting letters to national places (told funny and personal stories) that netted her some stuff like shoes although no sponsors originally. Then she got local places by going in person and making a pitch. Then she got newspaper coverage, which got her on the radio, and then one or two national folks.

    Just saying it can be done. And maybe she can inspire him a little bit.


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