Tae Kwon Do Dads

Back in May we decided to enroll zj in Tae Kwon Do classes, and I'll have to admit it's been pretty good for him so far.

He makes his bed up in the mornings that we are going to go to class because his instructor asks about it, and occasionally assigns push-ups when it hasn't been done.  He answers most questions now with "yes, sir" or "no, sir," which is wonderful unless the asker is a woman, then it's just a little awkward... "Oh no of COURSE he doesn't think you're a man.  It's just a LITTLE bit of a mustache, really.  It hardly shows at all."   He's interested and engaged in class, and this week he had his first demonstration performance for the public.  I made RJ take him because my heart just couldn't take it.  I hear it went fine.  Just fine.

If all goes according to plan, he will be testing for his yellow belt in a couple weeks.  He's beside himself with excitement about this.  Honestly, I'm awfully proud of the way he's taken to it.  I'm glad that he's found something that he enjoys doing and gets a sense of accomplishment from, and I'm glad it's a place that rewards performance, not just attendance.  There are no ribbons for participation in Master Lee's class.  You come to class, on time, prepared, you do the work, and then you do it again tomorrow.  This is a lesson that I think is sorely missing from, well, pretty much the entire country, but that's a topic for another day, maybe.

Anyway, the way his class works is that you pay for it up front, then you can come to as many or as few classes as you want, and there are classes every day, Monday through Friday.  We've missed a few days here and there because of of vacations and whatnot, but for the most part, we have been going every day this summer.  I mean, why not?  Even though it requires that I put on a bra and leave the house - neither of which I'm all that excited about - it's good for zj to have some structure over the summer, and it's a great place for him to run out a little bit of his seemingly boundless energy.

Since this has become a nearly every day affair, I've met many of the parents who also take their kids to class.  Usually I'm busy just trying to keep cj quiet and occupied for the entire hour, but it's really interesting to watch the parents watch their kids.  I'm a people watcher by nature, in a totally non-stalkerish way, of course.

Here's what I've observed.  Every mom - every single one - who comes to class brings a project or something to keep her busy.  One mom knits.  Many bring books or magazines.  A couple have laptops.  They all sit there for the hour, working away on whatever, glancing up occasionally to ensure their kid is still there and not in any distress, they they go back to whatever they were doing.

This is SO not what the dads do.

The dads come with an agenda, and it is to coach from the sidelines.

They mutter under their breath "No, it's a high block.  HIGH BLOCK!"  and "Kick higher! Like I showed you!" and "Hey, pay attention!" although how they expect their kids to pay attention to both them and the instructor at the same time is beyond me.

They shadowbox along with the forms, bobbing and weaving from side to side, following the movements from a position that is squarely and firmly on their asses.

They keep their laser-sharp eyes focused on every move, every nuance of the class, and as soon as class is over they say things to their kids like "How did you miss that kick?  That one right when class started?" and "I think we need to work on your form when we get home.  It looked sloppy."

The moms greet their kids after class with "Did you have a good time?" and "Don't forget your water bottle."

Usually I'm not one to place stereotypes on people because of their gender or whatever else - as a muscle-car-driving, beer-drinking, power-tool-wielding girl married to a fruity-drink-loving, shoe-polishing, girl-band-loving guy, we tear down stereotypes just by placing a drink order.  I cannot count the number of times RJ's fruity drink ends up in front of me and my beer ends up in front of him, placed there by the well-meaning server who is just certain the drink order got reversed somehow.  It's become our running joke.

But at this place for some reason, the people I meet are consistent.  That's not to say that there might not be knitting dads in some other class, but so far, I haven't had the pleasure of meeting them.

I wonder if it's some sort of vicarious competitive thing, but since I'm maybe the most competitive person I know, occasionally resorting to competing with people who are unaware of said competition, I doubt that's it or I would be doing it too.  Maybe it's just some Dad thing that I'll never understand.  Maybe I should just be glad I didn't sign him up for soccer, where I hear this is so prevalent as to cause actual fistfights in the stands on a regular basis.

Maybe I just think about things too much and should learn to mind my own business.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

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