Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why I Enrolled My Son in Karate

Right before Silas turned 6, he was having a lot of trouble in school according to his teacher. He wasn't being respectful of school rules, of his peers' personal space, or of his teachers. Some of the things they wrote in his folder seemed small (tapping another student with a pencil), while others were bigger (making a mess in the restroom and not cleaning it up).

In his defense, the school does have a policy whereby the student who makes a mess cannot clean up the mess themselves, no matter if it's urine, toilet paper, or food that they throw. My take on this is that if the student doesn't have to clean up after themselves, then why should they stop leaving a mess? But apparently some parents complained about child labor laws.

No, I'm not joking.


Silas is also big for his age (he's the size of an average 9 or 10 year old boy) but still, you know, acts like he's six. Because he is. And he's terribly uncoordinated. It took him a long time to learn to ride a bike because the coordination of the motions just wasn't his bag (baby).

He also didn't have anything that he could truly call his own. A lot of our time at home is spent together or kind of trying to make sure his younger brother who has Autism isn't tearing up the place or hitting people. So I wanted Silas to have "a thing" that was just his.

We joined the Peace Keeper family.

When we arrived in San Antonio in 2008 (just me and my husband, Mike, no kids yet), a student invited me to his belt ceremony at his martial arts school. We went to support him and I was immediately amazed by the organization - you could tell that everyone there supported each other and it had an amazing "vibe." Family. Respect. Self-discipline.

As I thought about what could be Silas' "thing," I remembered this school and also remembered how he had told me numerous times that he thought karate was "cool." I am sure he had NO IDEA what he was getting into, but I put two and two together and came up with, "Let's try out karate."

His first meeting with his Sensei was...fantastically funny as his mother. He was truly afraid. We walked in and Sensei greeted us and Silas told me, "Um Mom? I'm scared. I want to go home." Sensei sat him down and talked about how it was OK to be scared of new things but that he would have fun and nobody would hurt him. After a few lessons, he earned his white belt, which he was super excited about. But honestly, the things he had to learn to do that weren't too difficult for him (although I was surprised at how quickly he learned the things he needed to memorize).

Sensei and Silas

"Here, educate yourself!"

Here's what kind of amazed me though. He told his teacher that he had karate tonight one day and she made this face at me. "Do you really think it's a good idea to teach him how to hit people with his record?" she asked. I almost wanted to give her Sensei's card and quote Bleakly from Lilo + Stitch, "Here, educate yourself!"

Karate isn't about being the crap out of other kids. It's not the bad team/sensei from The Karate Kid. And if your school is like that, well, I'm sorry. His school teaches respect, following instructions, self-discipline, and many other skills that he may not be able to learn while being active elsewhere.

I remember when Sensei told Silas about discipline, he said, "There's discipline, like when your mom has to take away your toy for being bad. Then there's self-discipline where you do things that are asked of you without complaining. Then there's blackbelt self-discipline - you know your room needs to be cleaned, so you do it without anyone asking you." I was silently cheering, "I LOVE YOU! YES! YES!" as he told my son about the practice of self-discipline. Because I can tell him until I'm blue in the face, but sometimes it takes someone else to remind our kids of it.

But now it's getting hard.

Now we're moving on to his first stripe test. Things are getting a little more...complex. He hasn't quite gotten down the kicks required for Kick Drill 1 (even though I have just from watching) so we practice. Sometimes he doesn't want to. Sometimes he seems to begrudgingly accept that I want to help him get better. But he has started saying, "Mom do I have to go to karate tonight? I'm tired." I'm not sure if getting his first stripe will help reinvigorate him or if he doesn't enjoy it - it's hard for him to verbalize and hard for me to understand. Is it hard and thus I don't want to do it anymore? If I continue to take him will it eventually become better (not easier) and more enjoyable? I can't tell.

As a parent, this is one of the things we kind of fight ourselves on - do I let my kid stop what they seem to not be enjoying or do we make them "pick it and stick it?" For now, we're sticking it. He's gaining coordination and confidence, and my hope is that as that builds, it will be something he WANTS to do every day as opposed to me asking, "Hey, do you want to practice your kicks with me?"

No comments:

Post a Comment