DO WE TAEKWON-DO OR TAEKWON-DON’T?
This is the question. Davis has just turned four and had not participated in any extra curricular activities except for swimming lessons (the kind of lessons where you hop in the pool with them).
That was not a pleasant experience for me because sporting a swimsuit in January, after Christmas cookies, was not my idea of a good time! But Davis had a blast. Despite the swimsuit, those lessons were fun because we participated. Now that he is four, Paul and I, as working parents, had to decide if we wanted to share what little time we have with him with an evening extra curricular activity.
We finally decided he should be enrolled in something for the fall/winter season, and then we had to review which extra curricular would be best. We started to analyze Davis in a different way as we began prospecting the list of possible sports. Is he a team player? Will he concentrate well? Will he have respect for the person who is coaching him? Will he be too tired at the end of the day to participate? Then we had to run through another checklist about whether we would be reliable parents. Would we get off work in time to get him there? Would we be feeding him a Happy Meal on the way? Would we be too tired at the end of the day? All of that combined with the question of whether we would choose a sport that fulfilled our personal childhood dreams or choose one best suited for our son. After making a few lists, talking to other parents and surfing the net, we decided that Davis was ready for Taekwondo.
We chose it because of the discipline that accompanies the sport. Each child has to learn the respect of the environment. At the Dojang, the gym area where they practise, the children must bow upon entering and show the Taekwondo master ultimate respect. This behaviour coming from a child who thinks he is the boss of everything? Parents must commit for a minimum of one year and must also agree to follow a credo in supporting their child once he is enrolled. They are expected, for example, to watch the classes in silence. This is very different from soccer games where the parents are louder than the coaches!
I like that the entire class is participating all the time, unlike team sports, where a child can spend time on the sidelines. Davis has learned to bow to his instructor and say “yes Ma’am” in Korean, no less! Teaching him to be calm and respectful is an ongoing challenge with our rambunctious little boy, but there is something about the discipline of martial arts that has everyone sitting up straight. We have picked something that is working for Davis and working for us.
He can count to ten in Korean, understands Korean commands and is trying to dropkick his big sisters (we’re working on that). Most of all, he loves going to this extra curricular activity. We enjoy watching him and love exchanging glances with him while he is in the class. When he knows he has done a good job, he will smile at us and give us the thumbs up! We give him the thumbs up right back to let him know that we witnessed a job well done.
This interaction is so nice because, even though we aren’t engaging in the activity with him, we are there supporting him and he knows it. We all look forward to our Tuesday nights. Even his big sisters come out and cheer him on and we don’t feel like we are missing time with Davis. Ki-Hop Davis! (Korean for the yell of power). You gotta love it!