First, school life, specifically high school life, can be brutal. Kids live in a fish bowl with 642 other gold fish. Disagreements erupt, students say horrible things, do really mean stuff and it’s impossible to really get away. You they are in a damn glass bowl! All they can do is swim to the other side and stare through the glass.
As an adult, it’s easy to tell our kids to “get over” things that happen in school but their environment is so different from ours. It’s hard to ignore or avoid conflict and bad behaviour when you are literally forced to stay in the same building, maybe the same room, all week long. When somebody ticks me off or is rude at work, I close my office door, I can walk away. Hell, I can get in my car and drive away. High school kids can’t do escape the morons and idiots.
Our taekwondo family gives my kids an alternate fish bowl. The snarky BS girls say at lunch doesn’t exsist when you get to class. Nobody knows them or cares what they say. They don’t matter because they don’t work out and they are not part of our family. Our taekwondo school, like any other extra curricular activity, is a respite and gives kids a break from the battle.
Reason number two: You learn getting hurt probably won’t kill you.. Rather than sitting around playing video games after school my kids have figured out they can get punched or kicked and keep on going. Yeah, it hurts but it’s not really that big a deal. So many kids are really really afraid to start sparing because they don’t want to get hurt, then they learn…..it’s ok. And we are all a little stronger than we think.
And finally there are tournaments. There are winners and losers and my kids, even after all these years, are still learning how to be gracious at both. This weekend Sandor got a 1st and a 3rd. Look at this face. Does he look like a good loser or winner? Hell no! So we had talk, he could be a happy winner or a sad loser, it was his decision. After thirty minutes and a pep talk from a much older and cooler boy, he was a super happy kid.
Unlike most sports, when you are part of the martial arts world you get to see your coaches and instructors do amazing things. They may be 30, 40 or 50 even 60, but instructors and adult students are still doing awe inspiring stuff. They are, still punching and kicking, still jumping like kitty cats, still working to improve, rather than getting fat on the sidelines. Grown men and women in the martial arts act just like 14 year old boys. How cool is that?
Maybe your alternate universe/family is basketball, or art, or dance. It doesn’t matter. As long as your family and especially your kids know school is important but it isn’t real life. It’s a fish bowl full of good and bad fish. And sometimes you just need to swim away
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