Friday, February 29, 2008

Wax On…Wax Off

The Kid has been taking karate since he was five and he is very good at it. He's memorized combinations and kata. He has broken boards using his wee little hands and feet. He's been a bit of a star in the class - one of the youngest kids to advance to his current level. He can also be a little lazy in class sometimes and the new instructor (who, I swear to god, I am going to learn to like and not be so obsessive about even though I did lean over to Lefty this week and say – in all honesty – can you just kill him…please) has little patience for Max's focus on form or for his spinning flourishes when he's sparring. He just wants The Kid to kick as hard as he can every time he throws a kick and The Kid has just not gotten on the kick hard bandwagon. So, this week, for the first time in over two years of karate evaluations, The Kid did not pass his stripe test (thusly called because when you pass you get a stripe on your belt).

As a mother, there are few things worse than seeing your child bitterly disappointed. But, the new instructor who we'll call Mark, because I'm just tired of typing "new instructor", was absolutely right. I could see very clearly what they were asking The Kid to do and he just was not getting there. I feared The Kid, who is a tender-hearted little thing, would burst into tears. Then I worried that I might. His beloved instructor of times past, who we shall call Steve, because I'm tired of the typing of "the beloved instructor, came over and asked if The Kid could come back the next day to work on the kick and retest. I said sure. The Kid smiled and held his little self together until we got home and then he cried in the backseat for almost half an hour. (Did I mention he is also a teeny tiny bit dramatic?) I kept him company for a while, reminding him that he's a determined and stubborn little coot and that if he puts his mind to it, he can do anything. I told him that I have great faith in him. After awhile he told me to go away, so I did. This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn about parenting – that I cannot help some things with my mere presence and that when he says go away – he really means it.

I left the car door open and went into the house and got a beer and some knitting. I came back out and sat on the steps and kept an eye on him while pretending that I wasn't. Eventually, he got himself together and got out of the car. We made dinner and talked about the whole experience and the retest and all was well.

He was nervous about the retest and I was nervous for him. He went into class and worked as hard as I've ever seen him work for a full 45 minutes. He passed and proudly received his stripe. The class is going to continue to be challenging and he will have to work harder. I'm proud of the way he rose to the challenge and I'm a little proud of myself for not holding on, for letting him find his own way through, for going away when he told me to.


  1. It sounds like this was a win-win. It is really hard to just let your kid be sad. I'm still working on it.

  2. I know what you mean. I knew parenting would not be an "easy" thing but I really did not have a clue about how really hard it is - at least for me.

    Weekend, have a good one.

  3. Truly wonderful post. How awful that we as parents can't make it better everytime. But how important that our kids learn that. You must be so proud of him! Way to go kid!

    My friends hubby has gone for his black belt a couple of times without success, it's crushing each time he fails to get it.

  4. It is so incredibly HARD to let their disappointments/challenges/heartbreaks/whatever be THEIR disappointments/challenges/heartbreaks/whatever.

    And has anyone else noticed themselves turning their own issues into their kid's issues?


  5. Hey Laura! This reminds me of when my 20yo daughter was 6 and doing horse shows. They were just these little things for the kids, a chance for them to dress in their riding stuff and maybe get a fancy ribbon but some of the moms took it so seriously! One even accosted the judges after her kid didn't win a ribbon, asking them "WHY?".
    Same with ice skating. The crazy moms.
    Your story was heartwarming and it sounds like your son learned that you are there for him, but that he is capable. What an empowering thing for him to have learned at his age!

  6. Thanks. I feel like I'm just blundering around in Parent Land most of the time...