Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The karate kid scores

with a fourth-place trophy in his first-ever sparring match. I'll take it. First of all, I'm thrilled he even got out there on the gym floor, got his gear on -- after just getting the gear for the first time last week -- and kinda sorta remembered his moves enough to spar with someone (although he appeared to have forgotten he could kick as well as punch). Second, not every single kid walked out of there with a trophy, meaning some merit was involved. He also got promoted to orange belt level 1, which struck me as a possibly fast promotion given he just got yellow last time around, but DH thinks the first couple levels are easier to get promoted in, and after that you have to really work at it. So, fine.

I know I sound like a bit of a killjoy here, doubting the belt promotion, but I am severely allergic to the "Everyone gets a trophy! Everyone's a winner!" mentality and frankly wouldn't send kiddo to karate twice a week, or pay for the gear and the shiai entry, if I thought he wasn't really earning his wins. As they put it in my favorite Pixar movie:

Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

Kids should be allowed to be bad at things. How else will they ever figure out what they're really good at?

We did have one issue early on. Kiddo and kiddette and I were wandering the gym floor, looking for his classmates so she and I could go find seats in the bleachers, when a few of the classmates ran by. I sent kiddo after them, but he came back, upset, because the girl leading the pack told him to stop following them. I thought maybe he'd misunderstood, and sent him their way again. Nope, the girl definitely told him to go away. He came back in tears.

Now, he's had a little bit of a crush on this girl, and has been known to goof around when standing next to her in class; his way of showing off. Add to that his usual inability to read social cues, plus she's a little older than he is. I totally get where all this would be annoying to her, and if she by herself had told him to scram, I wouldn't have said anything about it. But there were other kids following her, so suddenly it was a group rejection, and I was left standing there with one crying boy, his bewildered sister and no idea what to do with either of them.

I marched them both across the floor until I found one of kiddo's instructors, and explained that the other kids were being a little mean. He promised to take care of the situation and of kiddo. Walking back through the room, I spied the girl and her cohorts standing near the entrance. I had a brief mental argument with myself -- do I say something? do I keep walking? -- and then the little devil on my right shoulder won out. "Are you always that mean to my son?" I asked her, and kept walking.

Probably I shouldn't have said anything. Probably the girl didn't mean to make him cry. Probably no one in this situation is old enough to react appropriately to anything, except me, and I still didn't. But his heart is so much on his sleeve, and it's going to keep getting broken, because he has no idea that some of his behaviors annoy people. And I can't protect him from that, and I won't always deal well with that knowledge.

At the very least, I'm starting to nudge kiddo to stay away from the girl from now on. Better for everyone involved.

Still, even with that incident it was a good day. Kiddo got his trophy, he'll get his new belt in class (what do we do with the old ones, anyway? Donate them somewhere? Make funky art projects out of them?), and he got to scarf pizza and cookies at the after-shiai party. All's well that ends well.

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