I still laugh out loud when I remember the wonderful instructor. He taught martial arts and so much more. But there was one life lesson that he brought home to the mothers and children at his school. And he wasn't fooling around about it. I hope you can laugh about this too. Read and be encouraged!
Let me say up front that I was non plussed when I learned that our two oldest grandsons were taking martial arts classes. I may have seen too many movie trailers, but it looks like a lot of fighting to me. I was, however, willing to be proven wrong so I went to class with them one afternoon and I experienced a true epiphany.
It is true that there was a lot of stuff going on with feet and hands that made this early childhood educator a bit anxious. Keep in mind that I still say "Use kind hands!" in my sleep. No one says that in martial arts. But just moments into my visit to this store front dojo I knew that this was a place where our boys would learn more than just how to break a board or vocalize a powerful "HiYa!". Solid life lessons were being taught and absorbed.
We were to meet our kids at the school and arrived a little early. We took our seats on folding metal chairs in a small visitor area. I had never been in a studio like this and there was a lot of equipment to look at. I had no idea how any of it could be useful. Except the mat. The mat looked very sensible to me. I approved of the huge, thick mat that lined 80% of the floor. Good idea. Big mat. I don't like the idea of my grandchildren being tossed on hard surfaces.
One class ended and the students with their parents began to file out as the next group came in including our boys. The jovial, vigilant instructor seemed to be speaking to every child at once. Calling each by name, giving reminders or congratulations he was fully engaged with every student. Teachers like this are so rare. I admired him instantly. I began to breathe a sigh of relief, but then he got even better.
More than just a few of the students, mostly boys ages 6-10, entered the school wearing immaculate white uniforms and strolling casually in the door empty handed. Each was walking a few steps ahead of a mother carrying huge equipment bags over each shoulder while balancing extra shoes, water bottles, and protein bars in their hands as they struggled with the big glass door.
Master Kim wouldn't have it. "Why is your mother carrying your bag?" He called each time. "You are a big strong kid! Carry your own bag!" Children sheepishly picked up their own possessions while mothers sat down giggling a little at the unspoken question. "Why are you carrying your big, strong child's bag?" Why indeed.
That wasn't the last lesson like this. One student left a vital piece of equipment in his bag. Rather than going to get it himself he asked his mother to bring it to him. Mom jumped up to bring the forgotten item to the mat and Master Kim said to the student, "Get it yourself! Your mother didn't forget it, you forgot it!" The mother halted in her tracks, the student moved to retrieve what he himself had forgotten. Life. Lesson.
Hear me clearly: there was not a hint of denigration in his tone. He was not demeaning the student nor seeking to belittle him. He was firmly stating a clear fact: you are old enough to be responsible for your own equipment. It is time to grow up and become aware. Your mother is not your personal road crew. She is your mother. Honor her by learning.
Parents, honor your children by having them do and be all they possibly can at each stage of life. Children should begin to take responsibility for their own possessions at a very young age. Expecting anything less is diminishing your child's ability to succeed at any stage of life. We are called to raise our children to thrive and grow even if we are not beside them.
We simply must be willing to encourage our children to become independent and responsible for their own belongings, assignments, actions. We must partner with them all along the way and serve as guides, but they will not be able to live their best lives if we still have to bring their homework to school because they forgot it at the age of twelve. When will they learn if not today? Who will teach them if not you?
I see parents who cripple their children by allowing and, on occasion, encouraging children to do the least they can do and still get by. This is cruel and gives your child an idea that the world will just lay at their feet and do their bidding. No one lives a full life without working hard to accomplish their best dreams while taking personal responsibility.
One of our local charter schools had a sign on the sidewalk in front of the office that communicated the same message I put in the photo above. Those teachers and administrators understand that teaching a child to function on their own is much harder than just doing everything for your child. It is why we cater to our children. It is easier than teaching them to do for themselves. But hear this: you and your child will reap dividends beyond measure if you help your children learn early how to row their own boat.
Master Kim of Kim's Hapkido Martial Arts, Virginia Beach, VA you are an awesome and inspiring teacher! Thank you for your influence on our grandsons. Friends, if you live in the Virginia Beach area and are in need of a good instructor for your children you will find him at:
Kim's Hapkido Martial Arts
4848 Virginia Beach Blvd Suite 12, Virginia Beach, VA 23462