As those of you who have read my previous writings are well aware, I have a grandson – Taelor-James. For those of you who are not aware, well, I have a grandson. He is 6 years old as of this writing. I usually only address him by his given name when I am either a) reprimanding him or b) letting him know that I want him to really pay attention to me (which occasionally involves the former reason). Most other times, I affectionately call him “Butter Bean”.
In Butter Bean’s short lifetime, he has exhibited a phenomenon that I can only describe as the Momma Factor. The Momma Factor is something that males of all ages demonstrate throughout their lives. The Momma Factor gets demonstrated whenever the male of the species does something, says something, or accomplishes something and then turns to look at their revered mater as if to say: “Did you see that, Momma?” In that moment, receiving acknowledgement, recognition, and encouragement (or any combination of the three) from dear old Mom is better than winning the lottery while being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. How do I know this? Let me explain. My mother passed away in 2006. In 2016, at the age of 50, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree (I’m a late bloomer). I still have video of when I crossed the stage. The first thing I did was look toward Heaven and say: “Hey, Momma!”. Connecting with my mother in that moment meant just as much as the fact that my kids were in the audience and my wife was graduating in the same ceremony. Like I said, the Momma Factor is inescapable.
I have seen my little Butter Bean succumb to the Momma Factor quite a few times. Having said that, I have seen it happen more times in the last 6 months than I have in the 5 1/2 years previously. What is the differing element? Well, last spring, my grandson’s parents enrolled him in karate classes.
Now I am not going to get into the minutiae of all the positive changes that have come about as a result of these karate classes. That would take another writing piece entirely. The important part is to consider that I typically attend these lessons with my daughter and her husband. Like most parents and grandparent’s, we use our mobile phones to capture precious moments in these lessons in either a photo or video format. The lessons are 3 days a week. On the fourth Saturday of the month, students are evaluated for possible promotion.
On one Saturday, when I was unable to attend. My daughter captured her son in a wonderful moment. I need to give some background information here. Whenever a student demonstrates a strike, they must give what is called a kiai. Simply put, a kiai (KEY-eye) is that scream that you hear in the stereotypical martial arts film. The word that they scream is “OSU!” (colloquially pronounced as “AHHSSSS!”). Again, teaching the meaning behind these words is another writing.
This particular Saturday involved teaching the students how to break a board. It is a special demonstration board with a seam in the middle. It is designed to be broken and re-assembled. Taelor approached the board, screamed “OSU!”, and with a swift left elbow strike, broke the board. He then immediately turned and smiled at his mother. You could even hear my daughter cheer: “WHOO HOOO!” I watched that video over and over again to view the technique and the Momma Factor that immediately followed. That big mile wide grin that silently asked: “Did you see that, Momma?” I’d rewind, press play then; OSU!…CRACK! WHOO-HOOOO!
At the end of the following month came belt evaluation where students are tested for possible promotion. At that point, Taelor – James (or “T’ as he is called in karate class), had earned several stripes on his current belt and was testing to advance to the next belt. The sensei (teacher) announced that my grandson would be advancing to the next belt. Each time such an announcement is made, the sensei asks the audience to clap for the student. My grandson clapped and then turned to face his mother (Did you see that, Momma?)
This past weekend, Taelor – James participated in his first karate tournament. He performed the basic techniques the judges requested and received a score. At the end of the tournament, he received a trophy. He took the trophy from the sensei then turned to face his mother (Did you see that, Momma?)
I tell you all of this to speak to Momma’s and Daddy’s across the world. Momma’s, pay attention to your children. There will be many moments when they will get a good grade report from school, take out the garbage without being asked, or received a trophy they worked hard to acquire. Cherish these moments. Someday, whether you are there or not, they will land that great job, publish a book, or hold their newborn child (or grandchild). I guarantee you, in those moments, they will turn and give a look that asks: “Did you see that, Momma?” How do I know that? Because, I still do it. Daddy’s don’t take such individual connections personally. You have your special place in the child’s heart too. Besides, when your kid does something really cool, you will probably be looking to see if your Momma saw it too.