June Journals #26 ~ Karate Conundrum

I have a karate conundrum. Another one. Actually, two.

My children received their yellow belts today, but my son is still sad because he feels he didn’t deserve to pass. We chatted to his instructor – told him about Sensei grabbing his arm and shouting at him – and the instructor brushed us off.

I’m not really surprised. I would expect a club like that to protect its own. And having only witnessed the incident from halfway across a hall, I don’t have all the facts. Although there is a bruise on my son’s arm, that could be from anything! He’s five.

But there’s no doubt my son struggles to concentrate in karate lessons. He’s naturally curious, and there is a lot going on in a hall of 20-30 children, from red to black belt, all doing different moves (or even the same moves but at different speeds and in different styles). He gets distracted.

I wanted to drag him out of class today. His mind just wasn’t there and he kept making mistakes, and for the first time I could see the mistakes were upsetting him. But if ever there is someone who might benefit from the discipline of martial arts it’s him.

I could back off as a parent, stop watching the lessons and exams, let him make his own way and succeed and fail on his own merits. I know that’s what the instructor would like me to do. The instructor is lovely and he’s not very old, but martial arts are uber traditional, and I suspect the new touchy-feely parenting doesn’t always fit with that.

The alternative is that I start karate. There’s a beginner’s group starting next Saturday. I have this dilemma every few months.

I’ve wanted to do karate from the beginning, although the more I watch the lessons and exams and see what the adults especially have to do (and the ribbing they have to put up with) I’m far less keen.

Besides, Sensei terrifies me too.

And it costs an arm and a leg (the commercial nature of the club, the frequency and cost of the exams, is another sore point. The last four exams have all been practically identical.)

But the main reason is that my children don’t like me doing karate. I read on a martial arts blog that. “All children want to do is immitate their parents, to be just like them.”

Not mine.

Well, okay, when it comes to watching TV, playing Jurassic Park, or eating cake, they’re more than happy to follow my lead. Swearing? Check. Being messy and disorganised? Check. But karate? No.

I could persuade my son – he’s much more keen to spend time with me and be like me. My daughter, not so much. And I don’t want to get in her way, I love the independence she gets from karate, and from being able to do something I can’t.

I’ve tried to learn at home, but it’s hard. I can just about do all their current belt stuff, but not with great conviction, and I’m reaching the point where I can’t learn from watching the videos.

So once more I dither: help one child and alienate the other, or try and be a supportive parent on the sidelines and admit that I’m not cut out to be black-belt material anyway. I suspect the latter.

I managed twenty minutes of running today (with a walk break in the middle) and covered over 4.5km. It’s not the same as being able to kick an assailant in the head, but at least I might be able to run away… 😉


June Journals #7 ~ Routine Rocks

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I even cooked last night

I always thought I wasn’t a routine sort of person. When I quit my job (nearly a decade ago now, frighteningly), it was like being reborn. Here was a life without schedule. No 9-5, or 8-8 as it was most days. No boss, no one to please, no one telling me what to do.

I was an idiot.

I hate not having a boss. Being self-employed, or even unemployed, as I effectively am these days, is not for the fainthearted.

Being the person who gets you up every morning, keeps you moving through the day, makes you knuckle down when you’d rather sleep. That takes will power.

Turns out I don’t have a great deal of that.

I wanted to be an artist. I left my job as a Marketing Manager to sell paintings, not realising that marketing and sales were oh so very different, especially when what you’re selling is you. I sucked as a sales person, and had to return to the office. But I made a good contractor.

Well initially anyway.

Contracting is the ultimate in doing what you’re told, even if what you’re told to do is not what you think should be done. Turns out I wasn’t much better at that either. If something was daft, or if someone claimed they’d asked for x when actually they’d asked for y, I found it hard to keep my mouth shut.

Then I had kids.

Suddenly I had a boss, and then two. And they were the most demanding, unreasonable, dictatorial, loveable little tyrants I’d ever worked for. And I’ve had dozens of bosses.

But doing what you’re told also becomes a habit, and now I have to be careful that I don’t let the kids treat me like a doormat. I catch myself jumping up to get things they can quite easily get themselves, or fetch them something while they sit comfortably watching TV.

Anyway, that drifted off point slightly. My point was, yesterday saw a return to routine, at least for the children. My day is topped and tailed by the school run, with homework and after school clubs squeezed in. There’s a routine, of sorts. And I love it.

I still suck at organising the five or six hours in between. I still sleep more than I should. But I’m determined to crack this proofreading course I paid for, and nail my 5k run, as well as finish painting the garden fence, so at least at the moment I have targets.

Targets are good. That’s a bit like having a job. Being a parent is a lot like having a job. And while most of the time I think I suck at that too, I look at my children and realise I’m not doing too badly.

Although being paid would be nice. Especially paid leave. Guilt-free time off. I miss that the most!