The bad news is that Merle and I both spent several hours of the holiday working. The good news: Merle can still work. She’ll get the results of the MRI tomorrow and fingers remain crossed until then that it’ll be a quick recovery back to black sash testing. Now, she tells me, it’s a vendetta.
My son and I finished out the waning hours of the holiday walking down to a Polish restaurant he’d been wanting to try for a while.
We settled on Perogies and Chicken Kiev…
Then I returned to my own kitchen to experiment with new cake recipes and prep for a food safety certification course.
At the office taking care of current obligations… in my kitchen looking forward to new, sweeter ones. That’s a more than acceptable Labor Day.
Twice a month I drive to work. That’s about an hour and fifteen minutes of one-way driving in rush hour traffic. Unlike driving to and from the grocery store or kung fu or college visits, that bi-monthly drive has become the time that I listen to music that’s special to me without the interruption of family conversation.
Driving up the highway last night, on my way to kung fu training at the gym, I just had to hear a song from a CD my son gave me for my birthday. It’s a great collection of tunes I loved back in my twenties and songs he loves today that are similar to the old Nineties “alternative music” hits. My need to hear the song was a direct result of a cool photo of the extended family that he sent me from his grandparents house, where he’s the photographer for a change.
Courtesy of YouTube, of course, here’s the song the picture put in my head. The studio version is one of my new favorites of 2014, thanks to a kid who knows me pretty well, but the live version is pretty good, too!
My beautiful babes were in a goofy mood as they waited to get through airport security. I’m in the middle of day one of nine without my loquacious Minecraft and Warriors-loving girl and my ear buds-donning, bilingual boy, with arms full of self-made bracelets.
He held up the security line for a good five minutes getting them off and back on. I’m fairly certain he’ll pack some of them on the way back.
All four family members sweat together in Saturday’s upper sash class. It’s the only hour of the kung fu week that we’re all guaranteed to be together. So, of course, I missed my kids today — particularly as my beleaguered glutes started screaming for relief somewhere around the forty-fifth outside crescent kick.
Misery loves company. In this Saturday of seemingly endless kicks and horse stance holding, my daughter would have commiserated and then some. “Batman” might have asked to kick in another rotation or two. Then, I would’ve wanted to kick him. 🙂
Sifu and Siheng Steve have the same sports car. It’s the school sticker on the back windshield of Sifu’s that alerts me to our leader’s presence before I reach the school door. When I saw it Monday night, the only night of the week he doesn’t come to the guan, I knew immediately that he was filling in for Siheng Chris, teaching the beginner class. It’s been six months since Sifu suspended my teaching privileges, and he still doesn’t call me to fill. Even though I now have a class of my own that will hopefully grow, it still hurts a little to feel outside the fold. I suspect that the pain will decrease in direct proportion to the success of my class at the gym. So I’ll just keep the focus where it belongs.
To that end, I’m happily anticipating the announcement for the second session of the class. This one will be open to parents as well, just as the guan is filled with families of students. I’m finding, as my young charges become more annoyed with the increased level of energy required of them to learn the white sash form, that the class may have been assumed to be a playdate with punching, instead of an actual kung fu class. It will be good to have parents know what they’ve actually signed their kids up for. It will also be good to have students with a longer attention span mixed in with the ones who need to be entertained. Here’s hoping I get a good turnout, whatever the mix.
The day started with the hot water heater literally showering boxes of photos in the basement, with a profoundly poor-timed leak. The four of us were on our way out the door for Aaron’s college visits but delayed the departure to spread dozens of pre-digital memories out on the family room floor. Here’s hoping the pictures dry well enough to be worth keeping.
Rather than be bogged down with depression over drenched photographs, I spent the day taking dozens more of a child who grew much too fast and is a measly year away from moving on. He’s still looking for where he’s going next, and we were along for the ride. Actually, we were the ride.
Several months ago, a twelve-year-old was robbed of her cellphone at gun point by a fellow adolescent, in a neighborhood adjacent to mine. It turns out she was a schoolmate of my six-year-old kung fu student. A former schoolmate, that is. My martial arts ingénue no longer goes to that school.
I learned this in a conversation that started with: “My friends think there are robbers in the bushes on my street. I think so, too.” I asked pointed questions in a curious and casual way as we did our cool-down stretches at the end of class. She answered with several non-sequiturs and a tangent or two before telling me enough to remind me of the news story about the cell phone robbery that had so alarmed me in the spring. Then she concluded with: “But I can just give them a karate chop!”
Is that why a six-year-old ballet dancer with piano lessons is also enrolled in kung fu? I wondered. For self-defense, a sense of security, the ability to ward off the robbers she thinks are in the bushes?
In a six-week beginner course at the gym, there’s only so far we can get on that mission. But if the bear hugs she keeps giving me on the way out the door are any indication, she seems confident I’m up for the task. She certainly gave me a lot to think about as I practiced the newest moves of White Eyebrow.
The little guy can only keep his balance for about two seconds at a time. That makes a snap kick hard to execute. He, like most young children, can’t point his toes, which makes a snap kick potentially painful for him. He doesn’t level out his thighs when he gets into a horse stance, and he has trouble remembering right from left. Yet, he is an excellent student.
His eyes stay glued to my hands when we’re doing double straight punches, and I can see him mouthing the numbers I’m calling out to him, as the repetition count grows. He emphatically announces, “I remember that!” for every technique reviewed from Sunday’s class and quickly demonstrates the accuracy of his recall. He takes it upon himself to review his knowledge of left from right, sporadically checking with me on which is which: “This one is the right, right?” Above all, he does every exercise I ask him to do without complaint. That’s a first for a five-year-old student.
I’m fairly certain that, though he seems to like me just fine, he’s not all that interested in kung fu. He’s in my class because his father wants to foster some kind of athletic interest in him. He works hard regardless because he wants to make dad proud.
I can’t teach him the same way I do the ones who want to be there. I have to switch gears and tactics to keep from losing his attention and his smile. It’s a challenge I’ve never encountered before. I wasn’t permitted to care at the guan whether students were having a good time – or, rather, I wasn’t permitted to show that I cared. But now that the rules are my own, I have to do my best to meet this challenge. An excellent student deserves no less.
“My hands are sweating!”
“That’s okay. That means you’re doing it right.” It’s one of my favorite things to tell young students when they tell me about something that’s making them uncomfortable.
“But I don’t want sweat on my hands,” said the barefooted five-year-old, looking up at me like I was weird.
“Let’s do five more kicks, then we’ll take a break and get a towel for your hands.”
I had to turn my attention to the earnest little dancer next to him to keep from laughing. Her hands were also sweaty, but her smile was immovable. I could tell that even at six she was used to being good at the activities her mom enrolled her in – and kung fu was at least the third.
A class of two, so far: five and six, boy and girl, bored and focused. The girl was almost at the class door before running back to hug me goodbye; the boy ran back to the door, after leaving with his father, to wave goodbye a second time from the other side of it.
And so the new class begins. I’m warm and fuzzy already….
“Hola, Mommy! Como – How are you?”
It was like manna from heaven, the sound of my boy’s voice, replete with a Spanish accent and brimming with a level of excitement I hadn’t heard in him in a long time. There was no need for me to ask if he was enjoying himself at his Spanish immersion program. It was clear. If he was bothered by four days of mandatory silence with the outside world, it certainly didn’t show.
I put him on speaker phone and all of the females of the family peppered him with information and questions. He answered rapidly, with only thirty minutes total to talk to us, his father and the girl he started dating before leaving for a month, but I could see the smile on his face through the phone, nevertheless.
He has the same smile today as the one he was born with. It’s still there, though it’s been studded with teeth now for quite some time. Occasionally, a certain tilt of his head coupled with the mischievous rise of a corner of his mouth brings his infant self flying back into view.
I listened to him tell us with giddy giggles about his ritual of racing across campus at dawn to get thirty minutes of kung fu training in before his regimented day begins, and I thought, for perhaps the tenth time this month, where have all the years gone? Wasn’t it just a few years ago we had our own morning ritual of dancing outside his crib to the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction?”
Nope. Not even close. It was almost a lifetime ago. His lifetime.
I’m going to need a bit more of mine to get over that. Sigh…
Less than two months into the school year, my daughter’s weekly grade reports from her English and History teacher always had a zero on them. She would either not complete the homework she handed in or forget to hand in the homework she completed.
Then there was Math, the subject for which she has a natural aptitude. She hated it. She had to actually pay attention and read the questions thoroughly to keep from making mistakes of oversight. And the girl was used to just flying through math homework on the way to anything more interesting. So getting my ADD girl to slow down, pay attention, remember assignments and, well, care – without taking medication – felt like a second job. That job lasted through the holidays, then into the new year, and all the way to winter break.
When all was said and done and the final bell rang on seventh grade, that girl of mine brought home a report card with nothing on it lower than a 90! It was her best academic year yet, and it required a celebration. So on Friday, after a relentless stream of appointments and errands that included my drug screening for teaching at the gym, the family took off to Ava’s personal idea of heaven on earth: Dave and Busters.
By the time she finished playing every driving game in the building and cashed in her tickets, she was a happy high honor roll student – and I was ready for a nap.
My afternoon was supposed to end with a meeting to fill out my employment paperwork at the gym, but that had to be postponed to Tuesday (the program director and Kid’s Club director have yet to get together on when and in what room my class will begin!). I opted to drop by the gym anyway and put the proper distance and speed on The Walk in White Eyebrow. It was the right choice and a very successful night of training after a wonderfully celebratory day.
I got a frown and a perfunctory return on the bow to Sifu this morning. It may have had nothing to do with my absence from Friday class. Either way, I was completely guilt free!
This is the picture on the notice the gym emailed to the parents of Kid’s Club members to finally begin the sign-up for my class! I’m starting to get a little nervous, since I’m months out of teaching practice. But as natural as sharing my joy of kung fu is for me, teaching it again should be just like riding a bike.
I’m so excited I can barely stay in my chair! I’m suppressing the urge to keep popping up out of my cubicle like a mole that needs whacking. More later….
Question: What does an addict do on vacation? Answer: More drugs!!
And so it was that I tacked an extra hour today onto my normal training time, once I found an empty hotel banquet room with high enough ceilings to accommodate my staff.
The timing on The Walk is making me crazy. So of course I keep taping myself to see if I’m getting it right, which I’m not. The failure compels me to keep trying… and taping. What’s an addict do on vacation again? Witness a few seconds of my madness.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the International Speedway, there’s a world dedicated to flight welcoming dozens of math and science whizzes – all of them girls this week (though several brothers came with parents for pick-up).
Just driving through campus for drop-off and pick up made me want to get another degree. Some shots of the sculptures and views, indoor and out:
Tomorrow, off to old stomping grounds at day’s end. Maybe I’ll have gotten The Walk by then.