Monday, March 17, 2014

Let's Kicking!

My oldest daughter, Harper, has been taking tae kwon do lessons for over a year now. She's done violin and a musical theater class and soccer, and tae kwon do is the one thing that has stuck. So far. You never know with kids what thing is going to stick, or even if anything will. Nothing ever stuck with me when I was a kid, but I think some of that was because I felt so much pressure. If I showed an interest in drawing, I was surely going to become AN ARTIST. If I took a tap class, SHE WILL CONQUER THE DANCE WORLD. My parents were always certain that anything I showed an interest in or an aptitude for was going to be my life's calling, so obviously I had no choice but to abandon it and move on to something else. I was too chicken and too uncool to do anything like get stoned in class, so my rebellion took the form of not taking a second gymnastics class!

Devon doesn't like going to Harper's tae kwon do lessons because it's way too loud. There's a lot of yelling in tae kwon do. And Korean pop music. Sometimes, Master Kwon likes to pump up the jams on the stereo to get the kids' energy level up, but even 10 year olds can only take so much Gangnam Style, and so now they tend to roll their eyes instead of collectively trying to do the horsey dance move. Because Devon gets upset by noise, David and I take turns taking Harper to class so one of us can stay home with Dev. She has class on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings, and I love going to the Tuesday class because we get to see the end of the previous class, which is the Little Tigers.

Little Tigers are, of course, the wee little ones and they are so stinkin' cute, it just makes your whole face fall off from all the grinning. They're like little wind up toys, just wandering all over the place on their little stiff legs and sounding like they've been sucking on helium balloons. Last week, Master Kwon did some exercise with them where he laid down a series of squares in a path and the kids had to jump from one square to another. The squares were, like, 2 inches apart, and the kids approached each gap like it was a cavernous gorge, pausing before each one and dancing on their little toes until finally making the not-a-leap-just-a-really-big-step to the next one. Meanwhile, the line is piling up behind them and everyone is in danger of pushing the whole group down.

That's the other thing that's fun to watch: they fall over A LOT. Feet are a serious deign flaw in small children. What creature can be expected to remain upright on such round little pudge packets? Kids don't get enough praise for the time they manage to stay upright. Of course, they get a lot of positive feedback from me when they fall down.

When Harper starts her class, I am always amazed at how focused she is. A lot of those kids are really just phoning it in. Why get involved in a sport that involves kicking and punching, if you're going to kick and punch like a weenie? I often wonder how many kids are there just because their parents decided they needed "discipline." Martial arts schools are always touting the benefits of learning karate or judo, like all these hyperactive sugar-tweakers are suddenly going to approach life like a steely-eyed ninja. And really, all the instructors ever do with the hyperactive sugar-tweakers is wish they were in a different class.

The parents all sit in rows of chairs off to the side since we're the audience this is all intended for. Not that we're paying that much attention. Most parents are trying to keep the other kids they have brought with them occupied and quiet. Or at least occupied. Some are just happy with "breathing and not kidnapped and the second is negotiable." Some of the dads actually do pay attention and want little Triscuit or Schooner or whatever they're naming kids now to know that he is doing EVERYTHING WRONG. These are the dads that will eventually say, "This report from your school counselor says you have low self-esteem. What the hell is wrong with you?"

It's when I'm around other parents that I wonder if my kids know just how good they have it with us. We're pretty freakin' laid back around here, most of the time anyway. But then I get around other kids and I realize just how good we have it. I volunteer in my kids' classrooms at school and the first graders are a band of total lunatics. No wonder Devon hates school. I'm supposed to be helping during something called "Workshop" but I can tell that this is just a way for the teacher to split off the insane children and make someone else deal with them for an hour while she does something productive with the calm children. And it's not like my presence accomplishes anything—they know I can't do anything to them, so it's pretty much just an hour of total chaos. I can only imagine being the parent of a kid like that, and I suppose after a while, your only recourse is to just try to impress upon other parents that, despite appearances, you really are a hard-ass disciplinarian. "Quimbly! Stop licking that lady's leg! Do you want me to come over there? Good, because I wan't going to anyway."

I'm just glad that my children occasionally allow me these opportunities to observe other people and other children and not only become more grateful for my own family, but also squeak out a blog post when I have nothing quilty to write about.

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