6 teen weeks and counting

{October 3, 2011}   Where the heart is

I wanted to break from taking a deeper look into current events and go back to the subject that is nearest and dearest to my heart.  My kiddos.  I recently signed AJ and Mason up for a karate class through parks and recreation to see if they would like it.  It’s a month-long class and I really want to see if they would like martial arts since their mother was active in it most of her childhood and early adulthood (wink, wink).   As a young girl, my dojo was like a second home to me and I had always envisioned my kids being involved in it as soon as they could walk.

After going into the tae kwon do dojo to get Mason and AJ’s uniforms and having them try them on, I was giddy.  I couldn’t wait to see them in action on their first day.  But after a few classes at this certain dojo, I began to feel bad for my little guys.  The instructor at this particular dojo was young and seemed to have little understanding in the abilities of toddler and preschool age children.  AJ quit doing the class.  Mason was trying so hard to do what was asked of him but it’s hard for him to follow verbal instructions at his age, let alone the instructions of activities that have never really been explained to him in the first place.  The instructor would get frustrated with Mason (and some of the other kids his age) and accuse him of not listening.  After talking with the other mom’s, I realized Mason was one of the youngest students.  One mom had voiced to me that she did think the instructor was a little harsh.  I was glad to confirm that it wasn’t just me that felt this way but also sad to have to see the disappointment in Mason’s eyes when he didn’t get a sticker or a patch when the other kids got one.  Poor Mason didn’t understand he didn’t do the activity correctly.  I wasn’t just acting on “mama bear” emotion when feeling this way about the instructor, I had bona-fide experience in martial arts and training young children.  I had taught for many years at my childhood dojo and had earned my second degree black belt before leaving to Germany for the Army.  I remember a lot of hands on teaching, helping the kids contort their body to accomplish the moves required of them, getting down to their level, looking them in the eye, helping them to learn the techniques correctly.  I never saw this with the instructor at the tae kwon do dojo and Mason never received this kind of hands on training.

Mason trying on his uniform for his parks and rec class

I finally took Mason over to my old, familiar school to talk with the owner.  As soon as I stepped into the dojo, I was payed respect as a senior black belt (that really made my day!) and pulled into the owner’s office to discuss getting Mason and myself enrolled back into this dojo, something I should have done from the start.  Today, Mason had his first class at this dojo and Mason listened better than ever, the instructors placing their hands on him to help him feel how a proper round house kick is done, how to set up his body for a good shoulder roll, etc.  There was no instruction to the students without a visual of what was expected (the instructor would not only say “we are going to practice our punches” but she would stand in front of them and do it as well) and the assistant instructor was there to help the kids that were unsure or struggling.  The was nothing expected out of them that was unrealistic but there was the discipline there as well.  They struck a good balance between the two.  As my teacher (and owner of the dojo said) “If the parents go to Harvard, you’re going to want the kids to go to Harvard.”  I went to the Harvard of karate schools and now my son is following in my footsteps.  I wish I hadn’t taken the detour to get back to this awesome school but as with a lot of my lessons in parenting, you live and learn and you follow your gut.  Hiya!

Me (on left) at around age 16. I believe I'm testing for another stripe on my brown/black belt


It is totally understanding and I can see how they would assume that you are being protective mom. But you were in fact just looking for the best for your kids which I think is one of the best qualities a parent posesess. And other parents need to know these things because some people who havent done these activities or sports dont know what to expect, therefore any institution would be fine. but that is very well not the case for this situation it really matters who and how someone deals with your child.

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