Life, the Universe, and… Tae Kwon Do??

February 21, 2007

OK, so I turned 42 this year.  I should have all the answers (or, according to Douglas Adams, perhaps I should be the answer).  So, riddle me this, Batman… Why on earth did I pick now to take up Tae Kwon Do? What was I thinking?

 Ok, what I was thinking was, David started TKD last year.  Susie and I wanted to find a physical activity for him that he liked and would stick with.  He’s not much for team sports, so when we saw the class advertised, we asked if he’d be interested.  He said yes, and we signed him up.  A couple of weeks in, I suggested maybe I could join the class as well, and it could be a sort of father/son thing.  He seemed to like the idea, but it was obvious he was torn.  We eventually puzzled out that maybe he didn’t care so much to be “in competition” with me, and if we were both in the same class, I would (by virtue of age and general experience) be “better” than he was.  So I offered him a deal:  I’d start, but not until after he had his second grading, for yellow belt.

 Well, he just got his yellow belt. 

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The more things change…

February 19, 2007

When I was a kid, every Sunday we’d go to my Dad’s house. At the end of each visit, as he drove us back to Mom’s, we’d ask if we could stop for ice cream at the shop on the next block. The answer was usually “no.” One week, Dad heaved a sigh and said, “You know, I like to give you guys things, but sometimes I like them to be a surprise. If you ask me every week for ice cream, then I can never surprise you with it. I wish you wouldn’t ask every week.” So of course we stopped asking, but every week we held our breath as we drove past the shop, to see if this would be the week for “the surprise.”

I only mention this because I’m beginning to understand his frustration. The situation isn’t exactly the same, but it’s similar. Susie and I like to give the kids surprises. The Disney trip, for instance, was a massive surprise… mostly. And this weekend, I took David to the fun fair (carnival) and (as a surprise) I wanted to take him to a movie that he’d been wanting to see (“Arthur and the Invisibles“).

The problem is that David is a very big “why” person. As in, “Why do I have to hurry and put my shoes on?” or “WHY do I have to take a bath?” or “WHY do I have to go to bed?” Normally, the answers are, “So we can go out”, “Because you’re dirty”, and “Because it’s bedtime.” But when the answer is REALLY “So we don’t miss the surprise movie time” or “So you don’t have to bathe tomorrow before we go to DISNEYLAND” or “Because we have to get up early so we don’t miss the train,” the usual 8-year-old foot-dragging and tantrum-throwing sulkiness becomes twice as irritating. And it inevitably leads to us saying, “Why? You want to know why? Because we’re going to DISNEYLAND tomorrow, which we wanted to do as a surprise, but since we’ve spent an hour and a half trying to get you into the tub without resorting to physical violence, and we can’t just say ‘Forget it, no bath, no Disney,’ we’re going to spoil the surprise and see if maybe, just MAYBE, that will motivate you to get yourself into the tub and then into bed before midnight.” And that kind of sucks the fun out of things, you know?

I love him to pieces, but I begin to understand the heavy sigh that prefaced my Dad’s comment.