Wednesday, July 29, 2015

And Then There Were None

Time for another one of those annoying parentbrag posts I make from time to time.

Not one little bit.

Long-time readers of the blog know that both my husband and I train and teach the martial arts together.  You also know that Older Daughter is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do (and has started fencing).

We had one more human being in our household not in a gi on a regular basis: Younger Daughter.

We started working with her at home about a year ago, hoping she'd get to the point where she'd be ready to join a martial arts class.  She wasn't quite ready to follow instructions, she got bored very easily and her physical coordination wasn't quite there.

So, we waited.  Worked with her at home a bit, and waited.

Older Daughter insisted that we don't force Younger Daughter in the martial arts.  Of course we wouldn't force her!  But her entire family is doing martial arts nearly every day of the week - of course, when we asked her if she wants to try it, she said yes.

Then came the time where we were pretty sure she was ready, and we took her up to class for her to give it a try.

And she backed out.

Younger Daughter has this shy streak, you see.  And when she thought about getting up there in a room full of people she didn't know with "all those people looking at her". It was just too much for her to cope with.  She just didn't want to do it, even when we explained that the parents there were watching their own kids, not her.

She wanted nothing to do with that, regardless.

So we backed off and said no more about it.

A few weeks later, Younger Daughter said, "When I am going to go back to Karate?" (In our house, all martial arts are "Karate", thanks - it's just easier to say).  I was sort of surprised that she asked that question so shortly after she'd backed out.

We agreed to try it again, but she said she was still scared.  So I made her a deal - I'd do the first class with her, see how she felt about it.

So, two weeks ago, we lined up together in the Tae Kwon Do White/Yellow/Gold/Green class, Younger Daughter at the "new white belt" end of the line.  She was in shorts and a t-shirt, and I was in my martial arts uniform.

Class starts with a game - which she loved, as long as I stood along the sideline of this game of "Spider" nearby - then with stretches.  I did the stretches with Younger Daughter, reminding her to watch and copy Older Daughter and Red Belt Teenager, who were leading the drills.

Younger Daughter was smiling and following directions and paying attention to what she was supposed to do.

So far, so good.

Master Lynn directed a Purple Belt Teenager to work with Younger Daughter on some basics, and asked Younger Daughter if she would help the Purple Belt Teenager learn how to teach karate.  Younger Daughter indicated she would.  So she stood next to Purple Belt Teenager, listening and following directions.

As she and Purple Belt Teenager got to work, I slowly backed off the floor, and sat down, grinning ear-to-ear and with tears in my eyes.

Younger Daughter was doing it, and without needing me to stand next to her.

Younger Daughter in shorts & t-shirt.  Older Daughter in Black Gi, leading class. 

We got to the end of class, and Younger Daughter needed me to come up and bow out with her, but still - she made it though class without feeling too shy to do it.

After the class, I asked her how she felt about it.  She said that she thinks she'd do better if she had a uniform like everybody else so she wouldn't stand out so much.

No problem, kid.  We got her gi and white belt and she was ready for the next class.  She didn't even need me to line up with her!  I stood in the back of the room where she could see me, ready to help her if she felt shy again, but she did just fine, all on her own.

So now, there's four people wearing belts and uniforms in our house.  I don't know if Younger Daughter will stick in the martial arts like the rest of us - that's up to her - but for now...

Well, let's just say I pity the dummy who breaks into our house when we're at home.

Are you a martial artist and a parent?  How did you help your child into the martial arts?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!