Noah went to his very first karate class yesterday.
Long-time readers: Yeah. You know the deal. You know that this was kind of a big step.
Newer peeps: There's no way to nicely sum up three-plus years of developmental delays, meltdowns, evaluations, diagnoses, successes, failures, therapy, IEP meetings and God knows what else in a sentence or two, except to say that yeah. This was kind of big step.
After our success with the homegrown hardscrabble soccer practices, we started wondering what other organized activities Noah was ready for. Soccer is on hold until the spring, since we could no longer consistently track down indoor venues and the constant switching of locations was driving the kids a bit batty.
Jason suggested karate, mostly because Jason always, ALWAYS wanted to learn karate as a kid but Jason's parents wouldn't ever let Jason learn karate and yes, sometimes parenthood is little more than an ongoing experiment in Surrogate Childhood Wish Fulfillment. He then let Noah watch the original Karate Kid movie.
(Not only was karate completely off the table for me as a kid [GIRLS DID BALLET, YOU KNOW] [P.S. I HATED BALLET], I wasn't even allowed to see the Karate Kid movie. So as I watched it for the first time with Noah, I was sucked into some crazy mothering timewarp wormhole where I became the asshole who had to sit there questioning the appropriateness of the movie choice, especially since the main takeaway lesson Noah seemed to pick up on was that kicking people's knees means YOU WIN.)
But, the movie cemented it. Noah wanted to learn karate. Like, immediately.
The place we took him to starts off with a short, private introductory lesson-slash-evaluation session, where an instructor teaches your child a couple basic stances and drills and sees if there's really an interest in karate (versus, you know, chucking ninja stars at thine enemies and shit). We'd prepared Noah for the fact that there wouldn't be other kids there at first, but chose the unfortunate wording of "If you do a good job and listen to the teacher, you can go to a real karate class afterwards."
During the private session, Noah was a ball of trembling, vibrating excitement. He couldn't stand still. He wiggled and jumped and wanted to talk the whole time. He had problem keeping eye contact and was easily distracted by other people walking around or his own reflection in the mirror.
Still, though, the interest and motivation was obviously there. He was just so freaking EXCITED. He mimicked the stances and did some blocks and kicks and never once insisted on busting out his perfected-at-home Ralph-Macchio-crane pose instead of standing at attention. He earnestly promised to practice self-control, first-time listening, and never use karate on friends, family or pets, and I never realized that martial arts could be so damn adorable.
(Plus, I highly, HIGHLY doubt anyone with a valid credit card actually gets turned down for white-belt preschooler karate. Just a hunch, though.)
We went into the office to get him officially signed and suited up for the class. Noah sat on my lap and suddenly we realized his eyes were red and brimming with tears.
"I didn't do a good job," he said. "I can't do real karate now."
HOLY SHIT. WHAT.
Well! Best parents ever, right? Oh my God.
Noah, you did a great job. You can absolutely do real karate now.
(Not pictured: One poor, hysterically jealous little brother sobbing just beyond the glass door because he totally mimicked everything they taught Noah and showed off a great forward kick and the teacher said he was a natural but you have to be three years old for a class and it's not fair and you guys are mean and the worst parents ever.)
(Totally pictured: Pride, child having time of his life, money well spent.)