It’s 6 p.m. and the air is freezing. Normally, I don’t mind it but tonight the moon is a thin unfriendly scythe that accentuates the cold.
Karate night has us out of the house and headed to the dojo. Mom and only one of the boys, that is, since the other didn’t want to go. I let him stay because I don’t believe in forcing children into something they might resent. Should I force him? It’s hard to know.
The first few days after the Christmas holidays usually debut with the boys waking up on the ruffled side of the bed and dawdling on their way to school. Routines be gone, my boys would do anything to stay home. Same for karate classes, but unless there’s a fever, broken legs or a typhoon, school and karate classes are on.
Well, today I break my own rules and accept an imaginary typhoon.
Once at the dojo, I head straight for the sensei and ask point blank: What if the kid who seemed committed says he doesn’t like it anymore? I ask for a solution that will preserve my son’s dignity, not chip away at his joy of doing things and will also show him how to tackle challenges like this one. A tall order.
The sensei listens and offers an answer. Teaching kids along the way has taught him something. Give him something to look forward to, he says, like trying something until he reaches a milestone, the next colour belt in this case. If karate does not make sense to him after, he’s off the hook, no questions asked. Fair for both.
A straightforward answer which will leave me and my son with a taste of “I tried that, I learned from it…”
Sensei’s consideration reminded me of a simple concept, as old as the world itself: It takes a village to raise a child. The one caveat: You have to let the village know you have parenting struggles just like anyone else. No inadequacy or fear of judgment whatsoever.
Until recently, I used to think that I should have all the parenting answers. I also expected them to be the right ones. Neither is true. Feeling confident as a parent is not easy. One day you’re up, the next you’re picking your wits off the floor. As kids, their needs and worries grow, so do the parenting challenges.
I often don’t have the right answer or an answer. When that happens, I put on a brave face, hope for one and tell myself, “This too shall pass.”
It’s not that it doesn’t, it’s how it does. Some answers I have, and some I’ll find along the way with the help of others. We should be in it together; it works better for our children. We just need to ask.