There was a time when all four of my children were in martial arts. It had started out with just Bob going because he was having trouble with a neighborhood bully and I wanted to give him confidence to stand up for himself. Tim, of course, didn’t want his brother to have all of the fun and Becky wanted to do whatever Tim was doing. My oldest, Jenny decided that it was kind of cool to be able to tell people she was learning martial arts – and it helped that the instructor and a couple of the boys in the class were really cute – so she wanted in on this new experience. I was all for it because it gave me a couple hours every Sunday evening all to myself!!! Who could ask for more?
It started out well – the children were learning respectfulness – not necessarily towards me but at least to another adult! They enjoyed being able to push each other around without getting into trouble and it helped that classes were held in a gym which also hosted a local gymnastics team! All that equipment – all of those pads and a built-in trampoline! It was heaven!
I was very diligent about dropping off the children every week for their class and I even stayed every once in a great while to watch them pass a test for rank and get their next belt. This was working out quite well as far as I was concerned – I was happy and relaxed, the children were happy and relaxed – and even tired! The only people I noticed who were not happy and relaxed were the instructor and a couple of the older boys. I didn’t pay much attention to this – after all, I know I would not be relaxed having to control a group of children ranging from age 6 years old to 18 years old! I considered the instructor a sainted – as well as a crazy – man. God Bless Him!
I noticed that Bob was doing much better with the bully – he had not had to use his new-found skills – but his brother and sisters were now a lot more apt to come to his aid when there was a confrontation. It was like watching a real life version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – but without the creepy rat as the leader – the kids were actually supporting each other and becoming a team! No punches were ever thrown – but the bully knew that if he picked on one kid – he was going to have to deal with all four of them! Since he wasn’t Chuck Norris (or even related) – he decided that it was time to move on to some other prey.
I thought all was going well until I was approached by the instructor one evening after class. It was obvious that he was going to tell me something which was upsetting and I thought one of the kids had done something wrong, broke some really expensive piece of equipment or that he was disbanding the class – all of which would have definitely ruined my day! After telling me how well Bob, Tim and Becky were doing in class, he started talking about my oldest daughter, Jenny. “Jenny is a good fighter and she has spirit”, he started, “but, her fighting is very non-traditional and isn’t the style we teach here.” What in the world could he possibly mean? Not the style – but a good fighter? What was she doing – killing them with her evil eye? The instructor went on to explain that he had two boys who had gone home crying in the last two weeks after their match with Jenny. I started to apologize for Jenny being so rough on the little guys when the instructor interjected that these two boys were 14 and 15 years old (Jenny was the same age). In my delusional state of a proud parent – I thought he was telling me that Jenny had progressed beyond what he could teach her in his class – so I asked him if there was another, more advanced class in which Jenny should be placed. The instructor lowered his eyes and spoke in a very soft tone – “The problem isn’t that Jenny is too advanced – it’s that Jenny is too mean. She fights like a cat – clawing, screeching, kicking and humiliating her opponents. Even when the boys use what they learn in this class, Jenny beats them up every time! I really feel it is best if Jenny was taken out of the class – she obviously can already defend herself against anyone and does not need my help.” With a stunned look on my face and a secret pride in my heart, I did as the instructor requested.
So, today I have three Ninja Turtles and one Cat-Woman. When they are together they are invincible. If they end up fighting each other – my money is on Cat-Woman!