When Patience Pays Off

I’m penning this post at the end of a long and irritating day. What should have been a three-hour event ended up being an eight-hour ordeal.

But this story isn’t really about me. It’s about my kids.

Both of my sons train in Taekwondo. They attend classes three times per week, and they participate in extra events throughout the year. Today was one of those events.


It’s called the Masters Challenge, and it’s a competition in which students participate in specific skills. My boys chose to compete in the Traditional Form event, or the poomsae. It’s kind of a choreographed exercise of the various moves they learn (you’ll see later in this post).

Traditional Forms took place near the end of the day. That’s important to the story.

So we arrived all bright eyed and optimistic that the day would be nothing but a rewarding first experience in competing.


Daddy couldn’t be there, so we had to take a Master’s Challenge selfie for him.

There were events in progress already, and between those and the afternoon session there was to be a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of the organization. No big deal.

Except the ceremony was supposed to take just over an hour.

It took two and a half hours.

And the students stood on the floor for most of the first ninety minutes of that (that’s the first pic in this post).

The boys were supposed to report to the “holding area” thirty minutes before the start of their events. Their block was supposed to start an hour before the ceremony ended (or when I thought it ended) and I wasn’t sure how quickly we needed to rush over there. So I plucked them from the group at my first opportunity and took them to that area.

My mistake.

Because following the ceremony was an hour of demo team performances. No competitive events would start until those were finished.

The holding area is a small theater that’s part of the auditorium. We claimed seats, and thinking they would compete soon, the boys warmed up and practiced their forms. Then we sat. And waited.

Once the demo performances were finished, the theater filled up with everyone ready to compete. It got a little warm from all the people, but no worries. We wouldn’t be in there long (20 minutes for the Traditional Forms event, they said.) So we waited.

And waited.



I got snacks for them and made trips (yes, plural) to refill the parking meter.

Fast forward a couple more hours. Teams and individual competitors had been called for their turns while we waited.

Somewhere around three hours after their original scheduled time, the boys got frustrated.



Hell, so did I, but I had to put on the “Yay, it’s almost time!” face. Because it was almost time. It had to be. But because there were tears, and I wasn’t sure if it was worth sticking this out for who knows how much longer, I had to ask.

“Do you guys want to keep waiting or leave?”

My older son wiped his face and said, “I want to do my poomsae. Or all this was for nothing.”

The younger one agreed.

Another hour or so passed.

More boredom. More frustration. More tears.

I sent them out to the hall to get out of the hot theater while I listened for their names to be called.

They came back in before that happened.

“Do we still want to wait?”

They both nodded.

Finally, with my younger son snuggled up against me and the older one bouncing his legs and talking through a clenched jaw, they were called.

And hope was renewed.

I worried how well they would do after all that.

I made my way to the balcony, where spectators gathered. The boys walked with their respective groups to their rings.

And you know what happened?


And this.

Then this.

They don’t look so frustrated in those last pics, do they?

As I was driving us to dinner, I tried to remember a time growing up when I went through something similar. I’m sure I had to wait a ridiculously long time for something (everybody does), but I couldn’t think of a single instance.

Maybe it was because those times were always followed by something good. Something I’d been waiting for.

Today could have gone one of two ways, one being the way it went, with the boys competing after having their patience tested.

The other is we could have left. No competition would have taken place, no scores calculated, no medals won. Something outside of their control would have beaten them.

In the words of my older son, it would have all been for nothing.

Today will be a memory for them. And I think the fact that they chose to stick it out until the end determines what kind of memory it will be. This was their first Taekwondo competition, and I suspect that instead of remembering the hours of frustrating down time, they will remember the moment they took the floor, showed their skills, and were rewarded for it.

You don’t experience a day like today without looking for a lesson in it, and I think it’s this: preparation is only part of the battle. The rest is dealing with outside forces. As long as you’ve done your job and are patient, your time will come.

8 thoughts on “When Patience Pays Off

  1. There are several lessons here.

    The first is, you will be beaten by what you don’t prepare for. That is true in taekwondo and business and riding in pretty much everything else in life.

    Now the boys know how to overcome their innate impatience. That’s a good thing. They won before they ever set foot on the exhibition mat.

    The other thing is, the organizers – ostensibly people who dedicate themselves to discipline – need to get an ear full about how you can’t have hundreds of kids sitting around waiting for a bunch people who can’t tell time. Not only is it rude and bad customer service but frankly it undermines their message of discipline. They weren’t disciplined enough to stay on schedule so how good can the rest of their crap be? They showed a complete lack of respect to the people they would ask respect from.

    I’ll do you one better. The ear full they would get would also tell them if they can’t get their act together we’re not coming back. There’s no reason to waste everybody’s time that way. When you have 100 people standing around for two hours you have wasted 200 hours of their time just because you choose not to follow your schedule. When Dan is writing the check, Dan is calling the shots and Dan doesn’t put up with that crap. They get their act together or they lose me as a customer and meanwhile during that two and an a half hours? I would have been slamming their asses on Facebook and twitter and their website to the point of a revolt inside the stadium. We may have or may not have taken hostages. But our message would’ve gotten through. Any organization would never try that crap again.

    Then I would personally seek out their teacher at the next class explain to him how incredibly disappointed I am with his lack of respect for me, my children, the other families, and our collective time. I would listen patiently to his lame!, And then I would hold his feet to the fire telling him point blank: this cannot happen again and I think you should write a letter of apology to every parent and every student in this class. If you don’t, I’m not sure I can continue to come here because that was disgraceful.

    Discipline works two ways.

    I know neither you nor most of the people who read this would ever do things I’m advocating. I might not even do all of them myself. However, it’s important to hold people accountable. If your kids were two hours late for class, there would have been repercussions. So the people in charge including their instructor need to hear from their customers that the actions were unacceptable.

    That said, I don’t know if I would’ve left. I probably would have wanted to see my kids perform more than I wanted to get onto whatever else we had planned that day. So I think you made the right call for you and your guys.

    A year from now they’re not going to remember the long, frustrating wait. But they may treasure those medals forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I plan on discussing this with the powers that be. It’s hard because we’ve had nothing but good experiences with them until now, and this one happened to be a doozy. I expect to see a letter of apology without prompting. There were a lot of unhappy customers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Expect a letter = good.
        Express your displeasure in person, the way you did here, means much more.

        Believe it or not, customers who complain are doing the business a favor. Many people will quit and never come back without saying a word. The ones who express themselves give the business the opportunity to improve. Don’t assume they know they did something wrong and don’t assume they’ll fix it the right way either.

        Sorry if this sounds like a lecture directed at you; it’s more meant for the readers.


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