Clad in a white robe with too-long sleeves that covered his hands and pants rolled up to reveal 10 little toes, he looks like a miniature Ralph Macchio in the “Karate Kid” who is too cute for words.
But in reality, my 7-year-old son is a lean, mean fighting machine.
Plus, he gets to yell. And fight.
It’s not only expected, it’s encouraged.
....Think I just found a way to make presidential debates worth watching.
It was a banner day in our household when our son was finally old enough to begin lessons in Hapkido a few months ago.
I’ll be honest.
I was terrified.
Not that he’d get hurt. Kids - like cats - bounce when they fall, right? I knew he’d get back up.
Nope, what caused my anxiety was watching the other class participants and witnessing their single-mindedness, their focus, their attention to detail and respect for the higher-ranked members of the class. A determined and fierce group of warriors.
And I was sending my son in there?
He has the focus of a ferret; can’t go five seconds without talking, laughing or farting.
He’ll be kicked out the first day.
We are gonna be so screwed.
I glanced around the studio, covertly assessing the other parents seated in chairs placed around the edges of the bright blue mat, waiting for class to start.
I wondered which of them I could pass my son off on when the time came to pretend he belonged to someone else.
Because we know it’s gonna happen.
Like when he was 4 and spent the entire soccer season hanging like a monkey from the goal.
However, to my consternation, no one made eye contact.
Yep, just like soccer.
Son-of-a-biscuit. I was on my own.
I took a deep breathe as the instructor clapped his hands to signal the start of class. I watched my son take one tentative step onto the mat. A fellow student, one whose higher-degree belt indicated he’d been around the block a time or two, tapped him on the shoulder and quietly instructed that each student must bow politely before stepping onto the mat.
OK. That was nice. Students looking out for the new kid. Crisis averted.
One minute down.
Fifty-nine more to go.
“How did it go?” my husband asked when we arrived home later that evening.
“IT. WAS. AWESOME!” our son yelled, hopping around in his little uniform. “Wanna see what I learned?”
My husband smiled and said, “Sure!” He looked at me, and I just smirked.
He was soooo gonna get schooled.
“Gimme your hand,” our son instructed. My husband naively held out his arm. And quicker than a flash, our son grabbed it, flicked it around and had his wrist twisted in a human knot, practically sending his dad to his knees.
“It was amazing,” I said to my husband, who, after regaining his mangled hand, was staring at our son like he was Bruce Lee reincarnated. “It didn’t take long for him to catch on. I think he channeled The Force or something.”
My husband, cradling his wrist, shook his head and replied, “With that move, let’s hope he stays away from the Dark Side.”