Zoe and Tae Kwon Do. I had to miss the first due to a teacher workshop at church, so I was fascinated to hear Buds and Monkey tell about the first class. She seemed to love it: The focus, explicit directions, very specific instructions.
The class is very regimented, and the instructors are stern, though seemingly kind. I am writing this post on a Wednesday, after what would have been Zoe’s fourth class. She missed the third one due to a Brownie Fun Day she and Alex went to. And then, this last Saturday, about two hours before we needed to leave for class, she began to sob. She didn’t want to go. Didn’t want to keep taking the class at all. So Buds and I sat in the basement with this sobbing little snuggly bit of humanity, and tried to figure out what to do.
As a parent, it always feels like so many decisions are huge ones. In actuality, I bet it is the decisions we don’t really even think about: what foods to have in our homes, the way we answer questions when we are in the midst of doing something else, how we talk to other drivers or our spouses, how we talk about the in-laws or the neighbors, these are probably the things the children are drinking in and absorbing and learning about life from.
But, allowing a child to quit a class, that feels like a big decision. Why? Because of the fear that it will become a pattern, a habit, a curse for life. We talked to Zoe about how often in life you do something hard, and after you’ve done it, you are so grateful that you had the chance to learn the lessons of the very difficult thing. That doing something hard and having spirit, is a muscle, just like any other muscle, that has to be exercised so it can grow and stay strong.
It isn’t about the money that we won’t get back from leaving the class. It’s about the choices we are trying to help her make.
Still, in the back of all of this, I remember when I made the decision to quit basketball my freshman year in high school. The overwhelming nausea I felt before every practice was gone. I felt so light and free and in love with life again. And I think Zoe had some of those feelings.
A little girl standing next to her in line in class last week had to do push ups for “not listening.” I don’t think the child was “not listening,” I think the child just didn’t understand. Zoe reacted to the tension and the emotion of moments like that, that not being the only incident from class. She was so scared about standing in the wrong place, or not doing something right. And even though she focused like a laser during class, it was a tense focus.
If she had had more time to get comfortable with the instructor, it might have made a difference. But, that wasn’t an option, so, instead, we asked her if she was willing to give up 5 weeks of allowance because of the cost of the lost classes. She was both willing and grateful to be given a way out.
Is it the right decision? Who knows, but to us it felt like continuing our tradition of giving the children control over their lives, while also trying to help teach the realization that decisions have consequences. Only time will tell, but this time it feels like a balance we can all live with.