Nunchucks

Sassy Girl

Before I had children I had the naive thought that as their parent you could shape or mold them into the kind of person you wanted them to be. Over the years I have learned this was a pretty crazy idea. Children are who they are programmed to be; we are here as parents just to try to keep them on the road to success. How they get there is really up to them.

My oldest daughter loved dresses from the day she was born. As a toddler the worst thing I could do to her was make her wear pants. She’s cry and fuss “but mommy I won’t look pretty!” she’d wail when I banned her dress for the afternoon as a punishment for hitting her brother. Quite befuddled at this line of thinking I remember trying to coach her into a more feminist forward way of thinking.

“No honey, you are beautiful from the inside out, who you are as a person is what makes you beautiful” I’d crone on.

“No mommy if I don’t wear a dress I won’t be pretty. It has to twirl!” She’d just as stubbornly insist.

Episode after episode like this transpired over the next umpteen years.

My son would make a gun out of any toy or object in the near vicinity no matter how much I worried if this was politically correct or not. He’d climb up onto the monkey bars at the playground, whip out his thumb and forefinger and start loudly gunning down all the kids on the playground like he was holding a machine gun! I’d run over and try to tell him that he could not shoot the other kids like that. “Why not?” he’d ask as if I were talking to him in Hebrew.

“Because it is not nice to shoot other people” I’d try to reason, more worried about what the other mom’s thought than if this was really that awful of a game.

“But I’m not shooting the other kids mom,” he’d explain to me like I was more than dense. “I’m shooting the bad guys” duh!

In an extremely lame attempt to teach him right from wrong I finally settled on insisting he could only shoot at cans, not kids. He would roll his eyes at me like I was hopeless and continue on with his game. Whenever I’d call him on it he’d insist it was a can he just gunned down and not a bunch of bad guys like a scene from Rambo.

After surviving this thing called motherhood for over 20 years I am starting to lighten up about things. Take my youngest for example. She is currently 10 years old, bright eyed and innocent, just like I’d love for her to stay forever. Instead of bubble wrapping her like I’d like to I relented and enrolled her in the most unlikely of all extra curricular activities- Taekwondo. Yes, I am paying good money to Master Lee to teach my sweet little girl how to fight and how to fight to win.

How did this happen you ask? Well, actually quite innocently, but now that she is signed up I am starting to embrace the idea, kind of.

Master Lee has a Taekwondo school here in town and a year and a half ago he came to her elementary school and put on an assembly. He got the kids excited about marshal arts and offered to support a fundraising event for the school. He would let you be a student at his school for a month for $50 and he would donate all the money back to the school for a climbing wall. Brilliant marketing I must say.

“Sure, we’ll let you go do Taekwondo for a month and contribute money to your school climbing wall” my husband and I readily agreed, thinking nothing of it.

It did not take long to see that Maggie was born for this stuff. She had excellent balance; she could really snap her snap kick. As we watched the class from the hallway it was not difficult to see that she had a knack for this sport. In fact, compared to the 18 months we had just invested in gymnastics she progressed more in one month at Taekwondo than all 18 months in gymnastics.

My husband became a believer after just the first day of class. He looked up on the gymnasium wall and found the words “Quitters Never Win” “Winners Never Quit” “We Are Not Quitters” and professed his support. “Now this is a program I could support,” Dan announced. “I am so sick of all this ‘we’re all winners’ crap out there” “finally someone who has their head on straight!”

Yes, we signed her up and immediately dropped gymnastics. Over the next year we watched in awe as our baby girl earned to break boards with her elbow, foot and wrist. She learned moves designed to drop grown men to their knees in mere seconds and much to my horror she learned how to whip nunchucks around like Jackie Chan.

Her big brother and sister now have a newfound respect for their baby sister and have learned not to push her too far. I guess I now know she’ll be able to protect herself when she is all grown up and goes off to college and I guess that is a good feeling.
(clink on the link Taekwondo to see Maggie in action)

Taekwondo Maggie

For me, learning to let my children become who they are meant to be is a lesson in love; it is not up to me to determine their journey just to be there along the way to cheer them on.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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