June Journals #19 ~ Striving to Grow

Well, they passed.

Despite my daughter’s tears starting before we left home, and increasing to sobs of ‘I’m NOT doing it’ as we stood outside the exam room, she did her exam and passed easily.

Not so easily for my son. He passed too, but I suspect only because Sensei was being kind. Actually, kind is the wrong word. Apparently he ‘yelled’ at my son for getting his kata turns all wrong (which he did, and totally deserved being told off, because he refused to practice).

Unfortunately, my daughter came out even more terrified of Sensei and even more determined not to take another karate exam ever. I suspect she’ll calm down, but it didn’t help that I’d portrayed him as a nice bloke for two weeks to calm her fears.

Anyhoo. They passed. And now it’s decision time.

I watched the next belt exams today, and I think they’ll get through those fine too, with some practice. But I’m not exactly sure why they should.

Photo3820The more I think about it, the more I think it must be hard for karate to be a passion at this age. It’s a bit like learning times tables and spelling all the time.

Because the exams are every four months, a large chunk of their lesson time is spent on revising for exams. And even up to the higher belts, it’s all a matter of remembering punch combinations and kata routines.

There’s no particular skill.

Now I’m probably going to be shot down in flames for that statement. Let me quickly clarify that I wanted to do karate with the kids (they wouldn’t let me – too embarrassed) and I’d still love to do it. There’s a thrill in feeling the muscles perform a perfect punch or getting my leg up into a kick. But I saw quickly that I wouldn’t have the memory for it.

Too much of school is about remembering stuff, rather than learning, enjoying, being excited. Growing, stretching, expanding. And karate feels a bit like that.

If I can just wander off at a tangent…

I was following the kids across the park the other day after school, carrying all their bags, listening to them squabble, wondering what it was all about. You know, life.


Beech Tree

There’s a huge beech tree in the park. It’s gorgeous, with it’s red/black leaves and majestic sweeping branches. I looked at it and wondered where I was going wrong. Why couldn’t I be a tree. Just be.

And then I had a mini-epiphany. A tree doesn’t just exist. It grows. It strives. Its sole aim in life is to get stronger, taller, better, and to pass that on to its offspring.


That’s the point. The point in life is to grow. If something isn’t making us grow – as a person, as a family member, physically or emotionally, then we probably shouldn’t be doing it.

I watched my children playing this afternoon. My son sparring with the mini boxing gloves I bought him. My daughter cartwheeling along the wooden ‘beam’ we made her, over and over and over again until she landed one on the wood. They were growing. Their skills improving. And the joy in their achievements was palpable.

I think my daughter’s right. I think she’ll grow more as a person doing gymnastics and dance; grow more confidence in herself and her body doing the thing she loves, than she will at karate.

My son still has a lot to gain from martial arts. The discipline, the listening, the learning to control his muscles and his temper. But is karate the right one for him? I’m not sure. I wish there was a Kendo class nearby. He gets his passion from football. Perhaps what he still has to learn from karate is humility. He didn’t think he’d fail today, and didn’t seem all that bothered when he nearly did. Sometimes I admire his self-belief, and sometimes I can see it landing him in hot water.

And me? I still have a lot to learn about this parenting and being an adult lark. Never mind growing, I’m still trying to grow up.


June Journals #5 – Watch me, Mummy!


Our Garden Gym

The sun came out yesterday. It was amazing. We went from March to June in an hour. I finally got the lawn mowed after my run, so my daughter was back to gymnastics in the garden.

Back to more, ‘Mummy, watch me, please!’

I love watching my daughter do her routines. It takes me back to my own childhood, when we put on plays and dance routines and all sorts for our parents. A simple time. And it’s beautiful watching how far she has come, with just her own hard work.


There’s always a but, isn’t there? I think parenting should be renamed, ‘But…’

The ‘but’ here is that my daughter also gets super frustrated when she can’t do the gymnastics she sees on YouTube. You know, those kids who’ve spent hours a week in classes since they were three.

Yesterday, we printed off the Proficiency Awards worksheets, so she can see how much she can already do. I (foolishly) thought it would improve her confidence, maybe even make her want to join a club.



Me & My Sis

My independent Aquarius refuses tuition. But… I’m at the end of what I can teach, both through my ability to demonstrate (I never did bend well, and my wrists are beyond weak) and through my limited store of patience. A teacher I am not.

With karate, she will listen to her instructor a zillion times more than me (except when he says she’s ready for her next exam, but that’s a whole other problem). I think with gym classes she would flourish.

If she just had fun at home, it wouldn’t occur to me to put her in classes. I think kids do far too much scheduled activity. But just as we’ve reached the limit of what I can teach them in the pool, if she wants to improve – and she does – then a professional is required. Even pro athletes have a coach.

Not my daughter.

And it’s becoming a problem. How do you parent it? Like with the karate, what’s the best option? Do you make them do the exam, knowing they’ll be fine, or let them languish and get bored while their peers move on? Is it just for fun, or should it also be about putting in some effort, wanting to improve?

I have no idea.

All I know is that it was easy to, ‘Watch me, Mummy’ when it didn’t end in a dramatic exit. And that’s without the whole, ‘I wish I didn’t have a brother’.

There’s definitely no solution for that one!

June Journals #2 – Simple Pleasures


Lunch at Tesco

I really enjoyed my day with the children yesterday, despite the rain (and, my goodness, it poured!)

After quickly baking some cookies for hubbie (because we forgot to buy birthday treats for his work. The cookies were horrible – I only had demerara sugar and it didn’t work at all – but hey I tried) the kids and I headed out to the Gym.

The Gym I take them to is a proper gymnastics club, but they have an open session for non members in the mornings. We used to go all the time before they started school but now we can only go in the holidays.

My daughter is a real gymnast in the making, but she refuses to have lessons. She is a free spirit and doesn’t like being told what to do. (I mean, at all!) So all the gymnastics she knows is from practice, watching YouTube and a program called Next Steps, and a few random bits my aged body can still just about do. (A handstand, a cartwheel, a round-off. Even when I went to gym classes aged 8 I wasn’t very good!)


Cartwheel Girl

When she isn’t doing a zillion cartwheels, she loves playing on the A-Symmetric bars. Or any bar. Or basically anything she can hang upside down on. It’s nice to go somewhere full of crash mats and things so I can relax and not fear for her head.

It was crazy busy at the gym, and they’d taken down the trampoline, but the children had fun. Now they’re older it’s easier in play centres. I can spend more time just watching and less time worrying (or trying to keep up.)

Afterwards we went to Tesco for lunch and to do the weekly shop. They chose Tesco over McDonald’s. Turns out taking them all the time when they were little wasn’t awful parenting after all (who knew!) as now they’re sick to death of Happy Meals. Not that Tesco sausage and chips is any healthier but at least we didn’t bring home more random plastic tat.

Just a normal sort of day, nothing special, with a cuddle on the sofa watching Aladdin followed by a couple of rounds of Draughts (Checkers) and Frustration with my boy, while my daughter watched dance programs on the iPad.

Nothing special, but oh so special.

My son kept saying, “I’ve had the best day, thank you so much for today.”

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Just Hanging

I complain about their lack of gratitude when we go toy shopping and they want just one more thing, or we go on an expensive day out and they want to spend more on souvenirs and ice cream. But a simple day, with a few quid at the gym, and a cheapie lunch, and they’re happy.

And of course I know why.

It’s hard for me that it’s my attention they really want. Because often it’s the thing I don’t have to give. As an introvert / HSP, I find spending time with people exhausting. All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep. But now I can watch them run about, now I can tell them to be quiet in the supermarket, or send them off to look at clothes while I browse the dairy aisle, it isn’t so bad. Fun, almost. 🙂

I don’t need to look for positives for yesterday. It was all positive. I even found some flip-flops with arches for my poor fallen-arch feet. For when summer finally arrives. You know, if it ever does. Until then, I quite like the rain.