#909: Karate Kid, Part 2—”Home-schooled”

Fast forward to five years later, and it’s now the Boy’s turn. By now, we’ve switched from tae kwon do to karate, and the Boy has been expressing interest in starting classes since last year. (Like a lot of young boys, ours is particularly fond of punching and kicking, so we figured, might as well have him do in in a controlled setting.) I managed to talk Sensei into allowing the Boy into the class three months before his fifth birthday, because he had seemed so eager. But then opening day came, and it was not meant to be.

The Boy spent exactly one minute in class, and during that time, his grasp never left my leg. I pleaded, cajoled, flattered, threatened, but to no avail—he would have none of that class. Like his sister, he was having a last-minute case of cold feet. But unlike his sister, he didn’t stick around to overcome his fears. As he explained later that afternoon, he felt that he was too young, and couldn’t do what the other kids were doing. So it would end there, I thought, ready to give up his spot and wait another year. But then the home lessons began.

When his sister heard that he had been too nervous to participate in class, she had a plan later that afternoon to help him. “Do you want me to teach you some moves at home, and then next week, you’ll feel more confident?” she offered. At first, he was reluctant, but then a few hours later, we could hear their voices from the other room (because the boy had shyly requested privacy for his first lesson), happily leading and following. Later, they were ready for the first big demonstration in front of their parents: Big sister offering tips on stance and fist movement, and little brother happily and confidently punching away at the air. And now that he has a hand-me-down karate suit, he’s been asking every day for the past three days: “When’s karate class? I can’t wait.”

This is what “homeschooling” is about: a reluctant learner ready to take a big step, with the help and encouragement of a considerate and patient teacher.