The Orange Drank Diaries

Grasshopper, Part II

Noah has his first karate belt test tomorrow.

A "formality," really, since white and gold belts are still grouped together, skill-wise, in the same class. A "confidence booster," according to the instructor who called me and twisted my arm up out my gut instinct that Noah probably isn't ready and convinced me to turn in the test form (AND OH RIGHT THE $40 FEE) anyway.

"Eight to 10 classes" is all it typically takes to move from a white belt to gold. Noah's attended 12. Every other white belt is taking the test, and the next opportunity to move up isn't until three months from now. Okay! Okay. Fine. 

And then: "Hmm, I dunno" from a different instructor on Monday, when I told him Noah was signed up. The attention issues, the inability to focus or look instructors in the eye, the non-stop wiggling and bouncing, all of it could, in fact, pose a little bit of a problem. He can do all the required moves at home, and one-on-one with an instructor when we've requested a bit of extra help. But the belt test isn't at home, or one-on-one, or even really, about the karate moves themselves. The first belt test is about self-control in the class setting. 

Fucking great. 

"Sometimes a belt is something you grow into," the instructor helpfully went on. In other words, no, he's not really ready, but you know, maybe we can toss the poor kid a golden-colored bone and then hope it all sorts itself out with a few more classes. 

Noah is so, so excited about the possibility of a new belt. 

I am ready to throw the hell up. 

Once upon a time, I'm sure I had an Opinion about kids and sports and everybody getting medals just for showing up. About parents wigging out because their preshus spechul snowflakes weren't automatically rewarded with success and straight-A's. About anyone who had a laundry list of "he can't help it" style excuses for their kid's less-than-awesome behavior (none of which had anything to do with their own parenting, oh noooo). About anyone who tried to shelter their children from the concept of failure of any kind. 

Maybe I still do, to a certain degree, but right now: Oh please, please, please don't let my baby's little heart get broken tomorrow. 




Here's to gold! (I know he'll do it!)


I sincerely hope Noah kicks butt!


Seems to me if Noah doesn't get a gold belt, he ought to get a consolation belt -- to the gut of the teacher who gave you the hard sell tactics! But I'm grouchy like that. :)


Super-serious, super-hard wishing for that gold belt for Noah. It's impressive that he has the skills, and the wishes are for his focus. I love that he is so into this. Very sweet.


go for the gold Noah!

sorry for the cheese factor there! I got excited!


Fingers crossed for that sweet guy!

Also: Just wanted to mention that while my guy was not initially diagnosed with ADD, he always struggled with focus and distractability, so a couple of years ago, we tried him out (at MD's suggestion) on low level dose of an ADD medication. It has made a huge difference for him.

Don't know where you are on the evaluation thing, and the choice to try meds is a difficult and personal one. But that's our story.

Love your blog and your boys.


Go Noah go.


Assuming your school is like ours (and it seems that all the owners go to the same "how to run a karate studio in America" class), he'll get the belt. We have plenty of special needs kids in the school, and the instructors know the difference between mild inattentiveness / acting out, and true behavior issues. They don't punish the little kids by not letting them graduate - they wouldn't be testing if the school didn't already know they were getting the belt.

Besides, the white to gold graduation is just a lure to keep you hooked. Noah will love it! ;)

Jamie Bowden


Generally speaking, setting kids up for failure is not how most TKD instructors work. I don't know how it works where you are, but our kids don't test for their next belt without the master instructor's approval, and he won't approve it unless he really believes the child is ready. And for the little ones, perfection is not a requirement (and it's generally not required for anything less than black belt testing really, if you could already do it perfect, you'd have a black belt, you just have to show competence).


Parsing Nonsense

Good luck, Noah! There's a whole Internet's worth of cheering section for you!


Good luck, Noah! The internet is cheering for you no matter what happens. And you too, mama.


I felt this way about my (11 year old) baby and a math test a few weeks back. I'm a teacher who once worked for a principal who used remind us that it's a parent's job to be always hopeful about their kids. So here's to being in your baby's corner and I'll cross my fingers that it all goes well for Noah.


Woo-hoo! Go Noah! You can dooo it!

Plano Mom

Go to the crafts store and buy some gold ribbon. If he does not get the gold belt, he gets an even more awesome, super shiny gold chain/ribbon/whatever. It is only for those folks that show the best determination/ambition/yell the loudest/whatever.

Plano Mom

And you clue asshole trainer in that if he doesn't make a huge deal about Noah and his gold ribbon, you will personally take that forty dollar fee and teach him a new black belt move with it.


Seriously, there are enough positive thoughts and good juju headed Noah's way that there's no chance that he's not totally gonna kick ass. And he's got you there to cheer for him, so there's that, too.


My own little ADHD case (not that Noah necessarily has ADHD, I know - just telling my story) got very discouraged because she was SEVEN and still in a Tae Kwon Do class for ages 4-5. Lying on the floor making faces at yourself in the mirror doesn't get you promoted to the next level, it turns out. She didn't go back for the next session.

This is what people don't understand about ADHD. It affects kids in more than one setting. If your kid just can't sit still in school, it's not ADHD. If your kid can't focus or pay attention or participate or behave in the pool, the grocery store, the library, grandma's house, karate class, the park, etc - then that could be ADHD.

And holy crap, you will get a shitstorm of opinions about medication. There is such a stigma. It's not an easy choice, but if you are flexible and open to all ideas and keep your own kid's best interest at heart - he's unique and not a statistic - you'll figure it out.


I can't help but feel sad, he is 5. FIVE why on earth should it matter if he gets a belt right now? I know everyone wants their kid to be the best at everything but this is so not important, shouldn't being 5 about having fun? If he can't cope with not getting the belts then maybe find something else for him to do that doesn't put him under such unnecessary pressure.
I know this is reading as if I am judging and I hate that you can't *see* that I am a mother of 6, 5 of those kids have had or do have special needs, 3 are now adults and I know that this stuff does not matter when they are 5.
I'm a grandma who feels so strongly that kids these days ( ooh look, proper old lady phrase) are pushed too far too soon.
Noah has made huge strides, he is perfect and quirky, he is who he is and not being able to pass a damn Karate exam at 5 is so unimportant, truly it is.


Speaking as a 3rd degree in TaeKwondo who was regularly on the judging panel for lower belts testings-- Noah is going to pass and receive his yellow belt. This is for a variety of reasons. 1) The people who run the school know that happy children have happy parents who pay for more classes, 2) Noah is at an age where the blow of not receiving a belt could put him off classes and lose them money, 3) kids testing is pretty much if they can do it, they will pass, OR if they try hard, they will pass 4) he will not be changing classes. If this was a circumstance where he would be joining a higher ranked class, then I would worry if he wasn't ready and the panel would probably not pass him. But at an age and a class where he will be doing the same techniques, in the same class? He will pass. For sure. Seriously.

As scary as this is for parents, the bottom line is that the people who are teaching WANT for Noah to like karate, and to want to improve. They realize that a blow at his age like that could lose them a customer and damage a kid's self-esteem, WHICH IS THE POINT OF KARATE. To raise their self-esteem and confidence and awesomeness levels.

Take a deep breath. Noah is going to do fantastic.


Can I just say that Helen up there is awesome?

Noah will do fine whether he "passes" the test or not because he has awesomely involved and supportive parents who love him and know what he needs. If he doesn't get it the first time around, that will become an opportunity to try again and Noah is going to need lots of experience with trying again in the next many years. Instant success now, in fact, may only present a stumbling block later on when things aren't quite so easy.

That's something we're working on with Maxx. When he screws up - which is often - he hits himself on the head and says "Oh! I'm SOOOO Stupid!" (Which drives me insane - we do not allow family members to hit one another or call each other stupid around here so why is he doing it to himself??) We try to coach him so that he thinks about what to do differently next time and believe that he CAN do better next time. It's so hard but I'm starting to actually believe these little pep talks myself.

Hang in there. I hope the outcome is good.


Oh Amy, I was just like you when Ben started TaeKwonDo last summer. I panicked about whether or not he'd be ready to move up. Could he pass the test? Master Seo is really tough on the kids and I knew if he tried and failed that he'd never go back. Ever. And I'd paid up for a whole semester so he HAD to. I voiced my concern to other moms who'd been there longer and they all assured me that it's perfectly fine. Master did too, btw. A yellow belt (actually, at our school they only get half way there with a yellow stripe)is more of a confidence booster. They only get really hard on them around the green/blue belt level. There are 4 yr old obnoxious kids who don't know jack.. and they've gotten moved up because they show up and their parents are trying to show them the discipline of regular attendance. He'll catch on. He will. Ben still has his issues... but he's lightyears from where we started. Noah will be fine too. :-)


So my 5 year old son Liam is in Tae Kwon Do- or was. He has Type 1 Diabetes, and due to his blood sugars varying wildly throughout classes (activity makes him drop lower and adrenaline makes him shoot up high), he also has a hard time focusing. He knew the moves at home. At his school they tested in classes once a month. Repeatedly, even though he did the moves correctly, he wasn't passed because he was wiggling and moving and not staring at the wall. We just ended our 9 month contract (finally- whew! What was my hubby thinking!?) in a white belt. I stopped taking him several months ago because the pressure was too much for HIM. It's hard to watch that as a parent. I'd discuss it with the instructor again, just to make sure Noah isn't being set up to fail. Good luck.


Oh man, the karate belts. My five year old is in karate class and I am so tired of the karate belts. He's in the "little dragon" class so they get a new belt just for showing up. Every two months. $55. UGH! When does it stop?

The test is just an extra session, jam packed with a lot more people. I would love to skip the belting each session but my kid is obsessed and I know he would be upset if he was the only one in his class who didn't move up. As it is, there are only two boys in the class (him included) who have been there six months. They go through a lot of students.

Donna P

Keeping my fingers crossed. Go Noah!


I am sure you have heard this once or twice before, but I'll go ahead and ask it:

Have you ever watched the NBC show Parenthood? Aside from being a surprisingly good show, they handle a storyline about a kid with Asperger's with a great deal of humanity.

I have a friend who has a child with some sensory issues that seem a little like Noah's, so I have a passing understanding of the issues. I have been really surprised at how well Parenthood depicts the situation as a commercial entertainment television program.

Anyway, I hope like hell Noah gets his gold tomorrow. I think this post made me rethink some of my own Opinions.


I'll be rooting for Noah from my little corner of the world!


Wishing Noah--and you guys--the very best tomorrow. Go, Noah!

PS: This parenthood thing is so very hard isn't it? Just after I had my second baby, an older child pointed out loudly in front of all the kids in the older class that my 3-year-old didn't know how to write her name. And when my husband told me, I burst into tears (a bit postpartum to be sure). We just don't want anybody hurting our kids.

Susie HInson

Is there anything else in this entire world that can hurt us as much as seeing our child hurt? No. There's not.
Good luck, Noah! Try your hardest and that's good enough. We're rooting for you, buddy!!


Fingers crossed, toes too!
I'm mulling what Helen said above. Good points I will remember as my 3-year-old approaches the age of organized activities.


Sending up prayers for Noah and yourself. Amazing things can happen and he appears to be an amazing boy.


In my son's TKD class, anyone who tries gets a new belt. The instructors work with them if needed. I'll be interested to see what happens with Noah. Good luck.


oh go helen! I just don't get it... when did growing up become a race?? why is the "smartest/best" child the child that can simulate adulthood at the earliest possible time? I feel nothing but sadness for young mums these days that are not being allowed to enjoy their kids for who they are.


Helen-you are so right.

I tell my kids that it's not the number of blue ribbons or trophies you get...someone is always going to be better, smarter, prettier, etc...but it's the times you did the BEST you could do that matter.


Oh- I also have a son with attention/focus/social issues. The day I quit 'measuring' him against other kids was the best day. Now I just celebrate him for who HE is and what HE can accomplish.


Chalk up another pat on the back, Helen. And thanks for putting into words what I struggled with.

Every fiber of my being is crossed for Noah to succeed today. But if he's just not ready yet or not there yet or he doesn't get "upgraded" or whatever the term is to the next level, he'll be okay. And you will, too.

Celebrate the victories, no matter how small, you know?!? The fact that he was even able to participate in those classes is a HUGE accomplishment within itself.

Much love to you & yours . . .


just saw this article today from NPR and thought of you

Can't wait to hear Noah go this belt - go Noah!


I hope hope hope everything went well, and you're all at Chipotle's celebrating now.
Also, thank you for letting us know what happened with The Stir. I'd been wondering.


Woo Hoo! Just checked your Twitter feed (I have it bookmarked, not followed, because, um, that's what I do?) hoping Noah's class was in the morning. WHEE! So vicariously relieved. That probably reveals way too much about me...

Still there

I just saw as well - yeah Noah!!! Funny how much your heart feels for those little victories...


I checked Twitter too. Yay, Noah! :)

Springsteen fan

So so happy to read the congrats on Twitter. Made my weekend to hear a happy ending on this particular saga. Congrats to Team Storch!


Oh man, let us know what happened! I'm rooting for the little guy!


It sounds like Noah passed. That's great news. Congratulations!

I was just thinking, reading this article, about my husband, reminiscing about his own karate classes, back when he was a kid. He's always been interested in Japanese culture, and pointed out that in Japan, there are only two colors of belts-- white and black.

American karate studios invented all the intermediary colors because American parents wanted to be able to see the progress their kids were making-- a reassurance they weren't wasting their time and money.

But, with stories like yours, I wonder if maybe the Japanese approach might not be better all around-- you're a student, until you are a master. End of story.


I feel your pain, I really do. It's so hard to watch them set their little selves all up for success when you know that failure is a real possibility, and sometimes even a probability. It's just awful, and painful, and stressful. I'll keep my fingers crossed for him, and I hope he does okay.


Am hoping that the karate test went well on Saturday. These things are agonizing!! Hope Noah fared well no matter what happened during the test!

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