When he walked in today I was hopeful but guarded.  He was brought in by an older man I’d never seen before.  It was noteworthy that his mother didn’t drop him off.

The last time I saw the nine-year-old was two months ago when I retaught him the beginning of the white sash form.  The time before that was in the summer, right after I first started teaching.  He came to a handful of classes in June and July, back when the school was offering a Groupon, and I remember being impressed with his aptitude.

Today, I was not impressed.  Today, there was little aptitude.  His inability to remember what he’d previously been taught multiple times slowed the progress of the rest of the newcomers – until I wouldn’t let it hold them back anymore.

I remembered that when his mother dropped him off back in November, she explained that he’d stopped coming to kung fu because she’d signed him up for other activities that conflicted with our class times.

“So, now the conflict is resolved?” I asked pleasantly, happy to feel like our school had ranked high on a list of things to return to.

“No, the other class was cancelled tonight.”

As she wrote down her phone number for me on one of the fliers on the front table, I had the uneasy feeling that our kung fu classes were being used for babysitting.  My suspicions were confirmed when she was almost an hour late retrieving him that evening, prompting me to actually use the number she’d written down for me.  She arrived with a crying baby in her arms, looking over-anxious and about to cry.

My first instinct is to be annoyed by the audacity it takes to drop off one’s child at a kung fu school to be babysat.  Almost everyone in the building takes their training seriously or they’ve been signed up by a parent who does.

But then I flashback almost a dozen years to a time when so much needed to be juggled as I worked, went to school and raised two children by myself.  I know nothing about why this woman is using our school as a place for her son to be occupied every few months.  I could choose to assume that she’s inconsiderate.  But for all I know, she has no choice.

About T. D. Davis

Baker and former journalist. View all posts by T. D. Davis

8 responses to “Instincts

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