Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Little Karate Kid

In addition to starting work, and Carrick starting kindergarten, and Lily starting daycare, we started yet another routine in our family: karate class. After a month of hearing parents talk about soccer games, swim team practices, and gymnastics meets, and karate lessons I started feeling like a slacker mom. How could these parents take their kids to not only one but many times two of these activities? How was it possible? Didn't they have life outside of their children?

However they were managing all that scheduled time and chauffeuring of children is beyond me. A small competitive part of me wanted to keep up and put Carrick on the swim team, on the soccer team and in karate class. (We already tried gymnastics and it wasn't his "thing".) He could do all three right?

Realistically, no. We did put Carrick in swimming lessons this summer and he loved every minute of it. He now fearlessly jumps into the "deep end" and fishes about whenever we are at a pool now. Swim team sounded like it would be right up his alley, except for the fact that it's mostly conditioning exercises. I knew he would not enjoy the "work" of swimming as much as he would just playing in a pool. (Not to mention the $275 registration fee to help fund the pool heating through November.) Swim team was out.

Soccer seemed like it would be fun too. Almost all of his friends are in soccer. The team is very non-competitive at games; they don't keep score at this age. And, games are held directly after practices, so families are only committing to one day per week. The only problem was that Carrick burns twenty minutes after being in the Arizona sun, even wearing sunscreen. Imagine how fried he would be after a practice then a game outside. Not to mention I would have to be there with Lily, keeping her wrangled and both of us lathered up in SPF. On second thought, soccer would be too much work.

In order to feel like I was keeping abreast of all the extra curricular activity, I asked my best friend how karate class was going with her son, Carrick's best friend. I purposefully was not pursuing karate just because I didn't want it to seem like I was doing it just because our best friends were doing it. She explained everything they did in class, how much it cost and how often they attended. After hearing her take on karate, it seemed like the best fit for Carrick and his after school needs. I had considered starting him with some sort of music lessons, but I wanted his activity to be physical. He needs an outlet for his body right now. It was also held indoors for the most part (they do go out back behind the dojo occationally), and the price and time commitment was doable.

We arrived at the Saturday karate class nice and early so we could meet the Sensei, and get Carrick ready for class. I was nervous about seeing my friend there. Her son is more calm than Carrick, and I knew that Carrick might stir things up in class. My fears and trepidation were quickly quelled when we spoke with the Sensei about the classes.

Carrick was bouncing up and down on an ottoman next to us while we spoke with his teacher.
"You see that?" he motioned to Carrick, "that's his job. It's my job to take that energy and reign it in." *sigh of relief* I knew we were in the right place. Carrick does have an abundance of energy. I am so glad that the people teaching him know how to handle him in a positive way and give him physical outlets for all of that energy.

Carrick joined a handful of first-time students on that first day of class. The part of his class of smaller children who had experience stayed with one teacher, while the new students went to a different area to work with another teacher. I watched him doing his warm up exercises and welled up with tears. I didn't cry on his first day of kindergarten; I didn't cry when he was born....but this???

Something about karate class threw me for an emotional loop. I have been with Carrick since he was a baby, and I have walked the difficult walk of a parent in a retirement community. Children in Sedona are unwelcome, they are an oddity, they are avoided. But in this safe environment, he can just be a kid, just be his energetic and enthusiastic self, and that's OK. I think I was in tears because I finally felt like he belonged somewhere. I felt the relief of  seeing him immersed in bliss. Yelling, hitting and kicking in a way that was tolerated, controlled, and totally OK. Thank God for Karate Class. 

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