Smiles and Strikes

A few months ago, Brian had written a post about how Collier had enjoyed the martial arts portion of his monthly class day. Well he has had so much fun with that little part of his class day, that we decided to let him try out real classes for a month to see if he wants to take on a more permanent basis. We had gone up in December to be fitted for our uniform and to see where he would actually be taking classes. The day we were there it was fairly quiet with just a few people, so he was pretty excited about taking classes and coming back to give it a try.

This past Friday night was his first class and when we arrived, it was a completely different scene than the first time. There were lots people everywhere, two classes going on in the glass-walled training rooms, tons of parents on the bleachers watching, and lots of noise and activity. I felt my worry levels start going up immediately because if there are two things that set off Collier’s sensory buttons, it’s noise and fluorescent lighting. I was afraid being assaulted by those immediately, he might not be able to focus once he got into class and all his excitement would be for nothing. Since we were early, we left for a few minutes and went outside, away from all the activity until it was time for his class to start.

Then it was time for the first class to begin. I had been talking it up all day and reminding him how much fun he was going to have but even then, when it came time to go in, there was just a little hesitancy. Collier often is scared to go into a new situation, even when he really wants to. His anxiety and uncertainty in himself cause him to often miss out on things he wants to do and it breaks my heart; I really didn’t want this to be one of those times. So, before we could go spiraling down that rabbit hole, we got his shoes off, him on the mat, and us out the door and to the bleachers. We made a clean get away and he stayed on the mat, so there was our first victory of the night.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a martial arts school, but with this one, the training rooms are basically big glass boxes with bleachers for the parents on the outside. Once we got settled in on our side of the glass, another level of worry set in. As sweet and loving and eager to please as Collier is…….he’s physically pretty clumsy and uncoordinated. I was immediately worried he would stand out and not be able to do things like the other kids. While he may not be a taekwondo natural, he tried his hardest and attempted everything they asked him to, from the “Chung-Be” stance to a “Palm Heel” strike. And every time he finished and ran to the back of his line, he looked out at us. He already had a smile on his face, but when we gave him our thumbs up, he absolutely lit up.

Before too long, his first class was at an end. He had managed to do all the activities, and the instructors had been very patient and helpful with him as well. I think his proudest moment was when he got a high five from the instructor who had been working with him. Of course, he immediately turned to us to make sure we had caught it. We had, and the pride he had in himself was visible. In fact, he had so much fun we went back on Saturday morning for our second class. 😊

Will he continue taking after his “trial” month? I have no idea. I hope so. I know it would be good for him to stretch himself and could help him with his focus and self-confidence. But I will let him make the ultimate decision. However, I will carry with me those big smiles that came after we showed him how proud we were. It was such a great reminder to me that as parents we need to take every opportunity we have to build our kids up.

Too many times our kiddos have to hear from the world about what they can’t do, from administrators about scores they can’t achieve, and from counselors about concessions in life that they have to make. But we as moms and dads instead can choose to focus on what they can do. Whether it’s getting a job and living independently…or surviving one taekwondo class, every victory deserves a celebration.  

~ Amye

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