Last summer, when Josiah informed us that he was very, very interested in being part of a speech and debate club this school year, my first response wasn't one of high excitement and great encouragement. It was more like, "WHAT? Are you kidding me? I'm going to have a baby in September, and of all the years for us to add a new activity into the schedule, this is not exactly a good one! Do we really have to do this now??" Later I found out that some parents have to kind of drag their kids to be a part of it. For us, it was the opposite: Josiah had to drag Jeff and I to it! ;-)
It wasn't that we weren't impressed by the organization--oh, we were! Very much! But the thought of diving into something new was intimidating to me. I didn't have a clue how NCFCA works, so we basically told Josiah, "OK, you can do it; but the responsibility for this is on you. We're not going to do the work for you, so you're going to have to take the initiative to figure this out and to do what's required of you."
As it turned out, Josiah rose to the challenge splendidly and enjoyed himself thoroughly. And sure enough, he took responsibility and did the work himself with very little to no prompting from me. Between his self-sufficiency with his preparation for speeches and Jeff's willingness to drive him to club meetings every week, I didn't have much to do in this area for most of the school year--except listen to Josiah practice at home and give him helpful feedback and encouragement. But all along, I knew that when February rolled around, there was a tournament that Josiah would participate in, and because of how the organization is set up as a parent-run entity, I would need to be involved with that.
To tell you the truth, I dreaded it. I felt so far out of my league that I wasn't sure I could muster the strength to do what I needed to do to be a part of it, with five kids in tow besides Josiah. But wouldn't you know, the tournament came and was SO MUCH BETTER than I thought it would be. All that senseless worrying for nothing, imagine that!! :)
NCFCA is run like a well-oiled machine, and it was an absolute joy to see it all come together. Plus, I got to spend those days getting to know the other moms better which was a treat for me. :)
Of course, I was always happy to catch a glimpse of Josiah during the tournament. He was often off doing his own thing, but I loved the chances we had to connect periodically. :)
Josiah felt good about his performances but didn't qualify to go on to the next level of competition--not unusual for a first-year participant, especially an eighth-grader. He wasn't overly disappointed however, but instead started making plans for next year. :) And no matter what his official result was, I could not have been more proud of him. The growth in his confidence and ability in the realm of public speaking is phenomenal.
Yes, I think we'll do it next year. No, I'm not as reluctant about it as I was this past year. ;-) As a matter of fact, I'm sorta kinda even looking forward to the 2017 tournament. Imagine that! :)