Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Comfort Zone

After last week's "endurance-a-thon", which was truly a test of one's endurance for sure, I was glad that it was "back to normal" with SW back from Spring Nationals. As I mentioned yesterday, she had showed off her mammoth medals she got for 3rd place in two events. When speaking to her before class, I asked and guessed correctly that they were in sparring and weapons respectively. She said the weapons one was especially surprising, but both were a treat as she has not been training as much lately, so considering this was on a National level, it was a big surprise, so she was happy with the results.

Class was much better tonight. We still got a workout, but it's nice when your instructor paces things that those of us over age 29 and slightly out of shape but still something that the tweens and teens can still be challenged by. The pace was MUCH better, not the run-yourself-ragged workout, but still a workout. SW concentrated more on technique tonight than anything else. There were more adults in the class, even though they are color belts, but that's okay. Both of the guys who were the color belts in class tonight are really nice, and great to work with. For that particular class, I think I was the highest ranking adult, which I guess says something (although I wasn't the highest ranked student). One thing that I was working on tonight was learning a new release move for the SJB that NK was showing the color belts tonight. It's where you start doing a figure 8, but then do the release on the way up, and then when doing the other side of the 8, then you do the other release. Well, in theory, it's easy enough to do. I understand what needs to be done, but it's easier said than done. Why am I trying to do it, when I am particularly not fond of this weapon? Simple. It's RAZZLE DAZZLE. It looks good, and I have a 20 second freestyle at the end of my weapons form. I have a basic routine worked out, including some release moves, but if I could include that one, then it would REALLY look good. I think I have something to practice at the bus stop when I wait for Drew in the afternoons after school. Since this next midterm is one that counts because I have to break boards, I'm thinking that since the upset knifehand is hard to do, and I think it'd take too much time to figure out the reverse jump side kick, I'll work on what's "safe"-- the round kick, side kick and front kick with one of them on the "opposite" foot. Well, I've been playing with the idea that since my round kick break is with my "opposite" foot anyway, I'd do the round kick with my right foot (since I usually kick with my left), and the others with my left. But now, I'm thinking of playing it extra safe, and just going with what I know-- round and side with the right foot, round kick with the left. It's only the first midterm, so it'll give me time to work on the other ones. Sparring wasn't much to speak of. It was fine, but again, I'm mostly working with color belts, so it's not as much of a challenge, other than chasing the faster ones. ;-)

Instructor class was okay. NK was practicing her new bo routine for XMA using MY bo staff. That's fine. She'll take care of it, and at the same time, at least it's getting some use right now. We did some drills where we reviewed how to use our words to describe what we wanted for a particular move, so that was a good exercise. Generally it's a good class. As tired as I was, I got through, and got a chance to work on that figure 8 release move a little more after doing my form a few times. The knee is really acting up lately, even with the knee brace on. I swear, as awful as it sounds, I wish I could just get some surgery on it, but it's not "bad enough". Eesh.

So, I think that since SW was back (and in a good mood), and she understands us 29+ people well (since she is one of us), I really felt more in the comfort zone than, say, a week ago. This isn't to say that RA is a bad teacher. I just don't always like his teaching methods. I would rather move slowly and have jaw-droppingly incredible technique than be lightening speedy. Speed comes with time, and the more I practice good technique, it WILL come.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chivarly is not dead, I guess.

You know how I said in my last post that I'd be taking a little break from TKD for financial reasons? Well, it's amazing how things can change in 3 days.

This evening, I took Drew to his usual TKD class. Now, a few days ago, I had left SW the March payment check for Drew and a note to explain why I was only paying one tuition for a while with most of the back story. I mean, none of it was SO personal, and she is my friend as well as my ex-boss, so she knew that I was trustworthy in what I said, and hadn't steered her wrong before. So, as I came in with Drew, she asked me to come into her office. She was in a good mood, fortunately, and I knew she probably wanted to talk about the note. I just figured that she'd say something like, "Thanks for telling me, no problem, just let me know when you are ready to start back." And that would've been fine. But then she threw me for a little loop there.

She just told me that she understood what was going on, and that I shouldn't worry about it, just keep coming in for training. She said if needed, we could work something out later, but she didn't want me to give up my training just because I couldn't pay right now. I asked her if she was sure, because it wasn't like I HAD to give up TKD-- I volunteered, as sometimes you just have to make some sacrifices for a while for your family, and this seemed like an easy one for me. She assured me that she understood, and in some ways, I was preaching to the choir. She knows me well enough that she can trust me, that I would never take advantage of her, so I'm sure that's why she extended the offer to train and just pay to the best of my ability when I can. I knew it was good not to burn my bridges when I left, and to behave myself until the end!

So, as much as I thought I was going to take a break (and kinda looking forward to it), I guess I'm not. But, at the same time, I think I might still cut back a little bit. My knee started acting up again today, and I don't know why, as I felt it bothering me when I was walking around the supermarket today. And I've been burned out from TKD for a while, but to lose ground on the momentum I've had in progressing through my midterms, well, maybe it's a good thing that I don't have to stop training. We'll see. Hmm...maybe being a goodie-goodie all the time has its perks after all...

In the meantime, Drew had his first class where he was really learning IW#1 (aka In Wha #1), a new form. Drew continues to have problems where things get waaaay too loud around there, and some of the kids ki-hap and answer up a little too loud because they know it bothers him. Makes me want to smack those kids, and at the same time, pissed at myself because I forgot Drew's ear plugs again. Poor kid. LS, one of the student instructors, helped pull him aside and worked with him, which I made sure to thank her for that. She said she realized what was going on, and she just tried to help Drew as best as she could, and he did respond pretty well. Drew did goof off a little in class, but when it came to weapons (he's doing jahng bang/bo staff this cycle), I think he has a natural knack for some of it. Today they were learning this one variation on a #3/#4 strike, whereby when you switch the strike from one side to the other, you have to lean back a little so as not to hit your face, and then end with the bo staff, and whereas other kids didn't get it, he actually did listen to directions, and he did it without any further coaching, and could show JZ when it was his turn to show her how he practiced it. Go Drew! Later, he didn't want to do board breaks as it was foot week, and he doesn't like foot breaks. So, SW helped him with that, and got him to figure out the side kick. It took him a few tries, but he got it, and I think because she was in a good mood (she just got back from Nationals and evidentally medalled in some categories, as the medals were being shown off at the front desk-- cool), she was able to put him in a good mood and work with him, and get him out of the grumpies to get him to work on a new break which he'll need to learn soon enough for testing, and give him some confidence he needed to try. That was good.

Drew was also excited because he was recognized officially as a green belt tonight, getting his certificate and his first stripe on the new belt, so that made him happy. He was still a little grumpy after class, but I think it was because he was tired. He told me, for the first time, that he actually is interested in getting his black belt, but sometimes he really hates TKD. I assured him that very often I don't feel like going to class, and how much I get frustrated with my board breaks and not getting my form right, and stuff like that, but you just have to keep trying and trying and the instructors are there to help you out and reach that goal if you want it. But just hearing that he had ANY interest in getting his black belt tonight was a first. I think he's starting to get it about earning a rank or title to something. He is starting to understand the pride in putting in the work and getting recognized for it. Yay! It's about time that it started clicking in with him. Even with that, I'm not going to pressure him that he has to do it by a certain time. There's no rush. I'll help him any way I can to help him get to where he wants to be, as long as it's in a positive direction. That's what moms are for, after all. ;-)

So, I guess my training starts up again tomorrow rather than winds down. I think I might still cut back a little. I already have due to my new job, but perhaps I might cut back some more, perhaps until the weather gets better and stress is less. They are both affecting my asthma something fierce, and I don't know that my body can handle that too well. I'd rather take it easy and keep moving, y'know? Only time will tell.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just when you think you know me...

HA! I am going to surprise some of you.

But first, a customary report, this time about Drew. Drew hadn't been in class this week due to illness, so he went today. I think a lot of people, due to the long weekend last week, came to make up classes this week, as it was rather crowded. There were even a lot of adults in the color belt forms class of Drew's today, which is quite unusual. Drew didn't want to cooperate. He kept saying he was tired. I think he might have been a little bit, because before class we were actually making him help clean up the family room (horrors!), and all the cardio they did at the beginning of class could've easily tired him out. Between recovering from his illness, my suspicion that he indeed has asthma like his mom (but his father insists on denying it), and that he might genuinely be tired, he wasn't very cooperative. He may have been a little bored too with the moves they were practicing today. I don't know. But at least he didn't have any major blowouts or tantrums or cause too much of a disruption in class. I could tell all the instructors were trying to get him to cooperate, but not pushing any buttons at the same time, which was good. Oh well. I did show Drew the whole first segment of the form so he could see it, since it was new to him, and I think he might like it. He agreed that he'd like to see the form on the DVD we have so that he might better understand it, and that's fine.

While I was waiting, I was also handed something that I earned a while ago. Behold my latest achievement with the ATA:
Level 1 Judge patch
Level 1 - Corner Judge

Now it's official. I really am a Corner Judge now, which is pretty cool. This means that I can judge hands or feet in a color belt ring, but not be the center judge. It's a start! I have to see if I can either figure out myself, or have either Sandy (the expert seamstress/quilter extraordinaire) or my MIL fix my sleeves on my uniform so that a) they are hemmed and don't get in the way, since I roll them up currently, and b)once that's done, they can put this patch on my right sleeve where it belongs. Heck, I earned it, so I want to wear it!

And now, for the possibly surprising news. I am actually stopping TKD for a while. It mostly has to do with financial reasons, as money is tight right now. Tuition at our school is steep, especially the first three years of membership, and it's money that we can use towards other things. I won't get into the details, as it's not worth it. We'll be fine, really. Heck, we are still having Drew take classes, because, well, he needs them more than I do. He's taken at least two breaks in his studies, and I've never really taken one. I only plan to be out one cycle, or about 2 months, so that's not too bad. Besides, as it's always said, there is no race towards a black belt. Taking a cycle off isn't going to hurt anything. I wanted to take a break a while ago, as I was really stressed out shortly after getting my black belt, but at the time, my employment was tied to me being a current student. Now that's not the case, so I can take the time off, and not worry about losing my job. I think it'll be good to take some time off anyway. I think I felt burnt out for a while, and as The Black Belt Mama has discovered through her ACL injury and recovery is that sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder, as she yearns to be back at the dojo. Me, I miss it a little bit (I still have one more paid week right now for myself), but after two months, I'm sure I'll be ready to jump right in again. It was a decision that I made to help out my household so we can stay afloat for a bit-- we should be back on our feet by the time I plan to return. And to have Drew stay-- I think he'll benefit from being the solo guy for a while. He's still proud to have a green belt finally, and this gives him some time where the TKD is HIS thing, now just OUR thing.

So that's that. I'll still be updating about Drew's progress in class, because I think it's important for people to understand how a kid with several learning disabilities can progress. And heck, I like to think of myself as a proud mother who tries to understand the best and worst in her child, and I can explore that-- or at least one aspect of it-- here.

I might also take the opportunity to finally write some essays in rebuttal or otherwise of my own from my own personal martial arts view. I've often read some of The Black Belt Mama'scomments, or another favorite's, John's Martial Views, and thought that if I wrote a comment, I would be writing almost a mini essay, and I should write a post about it rather than clutter up their blog comments. But I haven't gotten to it yet. So John and BBM (among others), be ready for some commentary which may or may not run along the same lines as your thinking, but hopefully would bring about a lively discussion! ;-) We'll see. I know there's at least one that I hope to write about that has to do with Extreme Martial Arts, because I have a slightly different perspective, I think, than most, since I have friends who are involved in XMA, including world and state champions.

In the meantime, I'll close this post with something that I found amusing about how my martial arts education has influenced my "real world" life. I am the den leader of Drew's Cub Scout group. All the kids and most of the parents know that I have my black belt in TKD, having even set up a kids' self-defense seminar with one of the ATA masters at the beginning of the year. So, tonight was the annual Blue & Gold dinner, which is a big to-do where the kids get their rank patches and such. During the dinner, one of the boys asked me if I could "karate chop" his ice cube that was in a napkin. For whatever reason, he wanted crushed ice. So of course, the parents there are egging me on to do it, and I said I'd try. I took the ice cube, which I think was slightly melted, in the napkin, and figured that a good palm heel hit would do the trick. Sure enough, it did, and the parents were surprised, and of course, the kid was delighted. The parents then were telling me, and teasing me a bit too, that I really know how to keep the kids in line and such. One dad even said as a reminder at the beginning of ther year, I should take a board and break it just to remind them who's boss! LOL I laughed too (because it WAS funny), but just explained that a lot of the attitude I have in there really stems from my experience in the leadership program at the ATA. Courtesy, respect, discipline, and focus seem like things that the Cub Scouts try to instill in the boys too, so I just carry it over. After all, they need to respectfully and courteously listen to others if they want to be heard themselves and expect the same from others. It seems pretty logical to me, so it's just a matter of me trying to enforce that as best as I can. I'm just glad that the parents appreciate that I try to do that. As a result, I can say that my den is one of the better behaved dens in our Cub Scout Pack, and I plan to keep it that way straight until they are Boy Scouts. So there you go.

One more set of classes, then that much deserved break...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Post #275

Yes, I've actually posted that many times. Hard to believe, huh?

Anyway, tonight was tough. I am physically wiped out. Now, I admit that I haven't been working out as much, and it shows, but there's a point where you have to say, enough is enough!

Drew skipped this week (well, at least until Saturday) as he's been sick, and while today was his first good day post-illness, I didn't want to chance it with him getting tired in class and then Mr. Hyde coming out (instead of remaining Dr. Jeckyll). In retrospect, he probably would've been okay, but I don't think I was up to it myself, staying there that long and getting 101 things done before getting him to class.

I still went to my double class tonight, however. It was a partial mistake. I should've just taken one. As I mentioned last week, my asthma has been kicking in something fierce for the past two weeks. I had some relief a few days ago when we had a freak spring day that was almost 70F outside, but now it's plunged down again below freezing. Bleeh. Between that affecting my health and some sleep deprivation dealing with a sick child over the long weekend, I went into class quite tired and worn out already. But I figured that if I didn't go to class, that wasn't going to help me since I was starting to feel out of it. A little exercise wasn't going to hurt me. That was until I found out that RA was teaching class, because SW is at Spring Nationals (even though most of the US is in the dead of winter, so I don't know why they call it Spring Nationals). I haven't taken an RA class in a long time, and now I remember why. He's tough. Not that is a bad thing. He's very good with his technique. He just got his 3rd degree black belt last week-- sick, no less, according to him. Well, his thing tonight was that what got him through his testing in his sick condition was endurance. (Personally, if you've ever watched him, and he's studied several forms of martial arts, he's a natural, so to me there was little doubt that he wouldn't get it.) He said that if he didn't torture himself with long practice sessions and such, he wouldn't have made it in his worn out condition. Lemme tell you, his worn out is everyone else's BEST. Nonetheless, he felt that is was his job to start getting everyone else's endurance level up. Oh great. So we had to do all these running drills and exercises in between to get our heart rate up. Crap, between my bad knee, my asthma and just feeling out of shape and worn out, it was brutal. Then, in practicing our forms, he said, "Oh, I'll teach you segment #1 of yours." What? What rock have you been hiding under? I know the whole thing, thank you very much! Well, instead he wanted me to work on the first segment or so. One thing I have to work on is more one handed techniques, as I still tend to do things as if I was a color belt/double handed technique. Well, at least I'm not sloppy like some of the kids! So, it feels a little different, but fine. I worked on my 20 second freestyle that I have to add to my SJB routine. It just needs some practice for one or two catches, but RA liked the releases that I did at the end and felt the main choreography was good. Then we sparred-- forget board breaking. I went up against a green belt dad who hasn't been around in a long time. Turns out he had knee surgery, but he was in good shape, as he was doing the bobbing and weaving a lot more than I would, and since I was pretty wiped, it ended up being a good match, but I SWEAR it was more than a 2 minute round. It felt like an eternity. I was completely wiped out, and had to get a very long drink of water to try to revive myself while I tried to catch my breath-- literally! (Water is liquid oxygen, as far as I am concerned.)

Did I stop there? No. Glutton for punishment that I am, stupid as I am, I stayed for Instructor class. Next to nobody was there. The P family was there, AS and NC were there, and me. That's it. I partnered up with NC, since she admittedly was out of practice herself (she does other sports, but quit her winter sport just near the end of the season), so it seemed like a good idea. Usually she is one of the stars here, but she's out of it too, so it was a good matching up. We started with "pyramid" kicking drills, as RA was still on his endurance kick (no pun intended). YOu know, start with 1 kick, then 2 consecutive kicks, then 3, then 4, all the way to 10, then back down again. Oh, it was tough, but I felt I did a lot better than I expected in myself. And considering that I was the only one who was a holdover from the last class (usually there are more, but not tonight!), I thought that was pretty good. We did a few stretches, then did the same thing again with a different kick, but less of them. We worked on our form, but again just the first section, so I felt like there wasn't much for me to improve once I got my stuff fixed. Then with weapons, same thing-- I just need practice, but I was getting tired, so it was getting harder to do. RA decided in this class to do board breaks. I don't think it was a good night for board breaks for anyone. I tried my upset knifehand again, but used wood just to get used to an open hand. Seems that on a pad, I can do it right with my open hand, but on wood or plastic, it's a different story. Now, I did break my wood, and it appears I did it correctly, or pretty close to correctly. My hand doesn't hurt or feel like I have a potentially hairline-fractured bone this time. But it still stung like hell at the time, and where the board broke was very high. Instead of the board broken pretty close to the middle, it was more like 1/4-3/4 with the leftover pieces it was weird. Oh well. At least it broke, and it was on something a little more plyable than the plastic! The thing that pissed me off the most was that this is normally a 45 minute class. Not that RA remembers that, considering he hasn't been to a instructor/leadership class in ages. Since the new schedule kicked in, he kept us the whole hour, and so we got out at 9:15, which is a half hour later than we normally get out. YUCK. He felt we had a few more minutes to get one round of sparring, and essentially I said NO WAY. I was too worn out, feeling too sick. And he said something blah blah blah it's tough taking two consecutive classes for anyone, blah blah blah, gotta keep working at least so go work on a bag. So as everyone else is getting gear on, I'm working on the bag, but they haven't sparred yet. After a while, I just said screw it. I bowed out, changed, came home and changed into my jammies to collapse! Now that I've had some time to relax and watch Project Runway, I'm still feeling it. I hurt all over. It was too much at once. I really do know my body, and I need to listen. There are times to push, and there are times NOT to push, and I went over the line tonight.

And on that note, I'm going to bed. I'm wiped. So much for MY endurance. :-S

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All hail the new green belt! (Photos included!)

Tonight was testing night. I normally don't go at the same testing time as Drew, which is for the camo-black kids. I usually go with the teens and adults. But I decided to cut myself a break, and with SW's permission, I came at the same time as Drew tonight. I'm not the only parent who does it, but I think it was a first for me, at least doing it that way at this school. (I did do a testing at the same time with him at Pennington once, but that was quite a while ago.)

For me, it was just a midterm. Midterm #2 (of 12) to be exact. So all I do is progress forward. The next midterm is one that "counts" more, as that's when SW has to send scores on that one.

But let's talk about Drew first, because it was more his night. For most testings/graduations, he's been hesitant to go. He's even acted up in the middle of testings as well. Tonight was a night where he really showed a lot more poise than he ever has, if you ask me. He was part of the second group up, as there were only two Tiny Tigers, himself and a tiny little 4 year old girl who was the same rank. (She started very early, as her big brother is a black belt.)

Drew was doing his moves so fast, that the camera was catching him as if he was a ghost! Look!
There's a good palm heel...

He's super fast!

Even with his weapon, you have to watch the little ninja...

Then, there was the sparring:

Drew sparring. He's in the back facing us. Keep in mind that the kid that Drew is sparring just got his red belt tonight (about 4 belts/5 cycles ahead), and he's 2 years older than him too!Love Drew's dance moves towards the end. :-P

As I was helping Drew get his gear off as quickly and hurriedly as I could, I was called up for my testing for my midterm. Well, I had to run, and with my asthma being extra bad right now due to the bad weather we've been having the last few days, running was not good. I barely got my breath, and I was having to go almost straight into my form. I was set up to "perform" with two little boys who were at the same midterm. I just decided that I would go at my own rate. I didn't even pay attention to them, because most of the time, those kids are racing ahead of me, and damn it if they couldn't just wait for me to be done, if need be. Well, lo and behold, I ended up finishing before them. It wasn't perfect, but it flowed for the most part, and it was fine. It hurt for me to hold my last stance due to my knees (my knees went commando, aka no knee brace so I had flexibility for the night) until she gave me the go-ahead to stand at ease. With weapons, I think the trick was, believe it or not, making sure that my sleeves were rolled up enough so my SJB wouldn't get caught in them! But I took my time, made all my catches, and that went smoothly. And again, I still beat the kids to finish. Oh, I know, it's not a race, but I was surprised that I finished as quickly as I did. Then it was off to sparring on the back floor, in which I had to spar an adult green belt guy. It wasn't much of a spar, especially since I was keeping in mind that I needed to back off for the lower ranks. I'm sure I did fine. I was totally exhausted by the end, the asthma being no help.

Once it was all said and done, it was time for the promotions, and SW handed awarded Drew his green belt:
Getting his new green belt.

Afterwards, Drew was trying to tie his new belt on himself. Here, he's trying to show me what needed to be done.
"Mom, can you help me tie this?"

Hooray! It's tied!

In the end, we have a very proud, very happy new Green Belt!
Drew showing off his new belt!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I'm no Karate Kid, at least not yet

I'm still not used to my work routine, so by the end of the day, I'm really wiped out. Tonight was the first Wednesday in a LOOOOONG time that Drew didn't go to classes (he's going on Saturday instead) and only I went for my doubled up classes. Sure enough, unlike yesterday, Drew's class was sparsely attended, and it would've been better had he come today in comparison to the total chaos from yesterday. Oh well. For me, classes were about the same as usual. I do think I have my form down fairly decently, for what it's worth, other than having the ki-haps. They are the icing on the cake, so to speak, to me. I'm more worried about what my body is doing more than my voice. I also discovered that I need to roll up my jacket sleeves one more notch so that my SJB doesn't get caught on them. I'm glad that next cycle I get to add on a 20 second freestyle to it, because I'm otherwise bored with the form (we all know my big distaste for the SJB), and I just want to move ahead to the BME. Most people don't like the BME, but I don't mind it. Still like the SN best, but unless I start working on an XMA routine, I don't get to study it again formally until I'm a second degree. Anyhow, we did a practice graduation, and I think I did alright. I got no commentary, so I suppose it was fine, except the messups in the SJB with the sleeve, but otherwise, I think she knows that I know the information. I did hold double boards for a brown belt, SM, who was doing his permission to test tonight. I was the only gal holding, but I was fine. I had a good partner to hold with me, PT.

When it came to be my turn, I decided to practice the upset knifehand again, but try it open handed, not like the hammer fist version. I was told my technique was good, but I needed more speed. Okay, no problem. And then WHACK! (No, that wasn't a break.) I attacked that board, missed the line (it was the plastic, but had done it with a lot of force that it hurt my hand. Turns out, I did it wrong. I hit it with the outside of the knuckle by my pinkie (turn your hand with your palm facing up, and it's the outside of that pinkie knuckle), where I should have used that PLUS the whole rest of the side of my hand. Um, ouch! As soon as she had me close my fist and do it like a hammerfist again, BAM! It went through. I was told it was not only the part of my hand that I hit was wrong, but I need to angle my hand a little more to ensure that I'm using that correct part of the hand. Bleeh! My hand was swelling up, and I can still move my pinkie, thankfully, but not easily, depending on the task. I did take my double Motrin for the pain and swelling, and it seems to be working. I broke the same part of my knuckle about 18 years ago, but with my other hand, so I have a pretty good idea of how that feels. This isn't as bad. I couldn't move my hand at all that time. I think this is just a really bad bruise, at least right now. We'll see how I am in the morning, but I think I need to lay off that break for a while!

Instructor class has something interesting. SW got a new "freestyle" form from one of the senior masters, because a lot of kids end up repeating the same "freestyle" form over and over (Drew is one of them), and they get bored doing it every other or every three cycles or so. It was definitely an interesting form! I don't technically have to learn it unless I'm helping to teach it, but hey, it helps me help Drew if he ever wants to master it. It's a form he'll like. All I'll say is that there are a few new moves for the kids, including a shoulder roll, which we think they'll like! I think Drew will like it.

So, have you ever seen that scene in Karate Kid II when they are in the bar and they are trying to break all those sheets of ice in betting, and Daniel-san breaks all of them? Well, that's the break I'm working on. Evidentally, I'm still working on that first sheet of ice. Could've used it for this hand, that's for sure. :-S

Oh well. There's always something to work on. I want to feel like I can break all the sheets, even if I'm only breaking one board, y'know?

Mama Bear had her claws out!

Think of an image like Marvel Comics' Wolverine character, but looking something more like me. Then you can imagine the image I had in my head of myself tonight during Drew's class.

The week before graduation/testing is always insane. But tonight was particularly insane. There were two classes going on at once, so there was a lot of noise from that. Throw in a screaming toddler (and I mean SCREAMING), parents talking louder than usual, and Drew's class ki-hap-ing extra loud, you can imagine my poor kid with sensory integration dysfunction going nuts. I mean, I have SID too, and it was unnerving me as well, but I can grit my teeth and bear it a little better being an adult. But what really was pissing me off was that my kid, who is finally starting to learn to speak up and speak to an instructor or teacher when he's having trouble, said something and it was partially blown off. What was worse was that several of the kids in his class that were around him saw it fit that when seeing him freak out with the loud ki-haps, even when he asked nicely for them to stop doing it quite so loud, they proceeded to ki-hap to the point of a scream, thus freaking him out more on purpose. I could see it in their beady little eyes-- they wanted to taunt him more with their actions. In my head, my claws were sharpened, and I was ready to pounce on those little brats. Eventually, Drew just removed himself from class, came and cried on my shoulders while holding his ears. All that noise, the school ambiance paired with the yelling in his class was just too much. When they finally started "practice graduation", I knew it would be quieter, and it was, so he joined class again. Later when he was sparring, he was one of the first to get his board broken, thus he was sparring the longest, so he was tired and opted out, but sat nicely on the side of the mats until everyone was done.

I spoke to JZ (who was teaching the class), and I was glad that she did say something in general to the kids about their ki-haps, but I had to explain to her what was happening to Drew. When I said something to SW, she said she saw him go over to me, and she didn't do anything, because she knew exactly what was going on, so she didn't want to interfere. But I made it clear that several of the kids-- without naming names-- were intentionally yelling louder to bother Drew, and in turn, that bothered me a LOT.

This is a school that likes to pride itself in teaching respect, especially for kids that have special needs or are different. Drew is one of those kids. The kids who were essentially being bullies were not being respectful of him. And I wasn't going to let that go unsaid. I pay a lot of money for my kid to get the same TKD education as everyone else, and I want him to have a positive experience, but it's difficult under these circumstances. Hopefully next week, with graduation, things will calm down. We are starting to make some significant strides with him, and I don't want to backslide because of some little creepy brats.

Like I said, Mama Bear has her claws out. I'm not afraid to use them either. But hell, you can only imagine the constraint I had to have with myself to not jump right out there and clobber those kids, or at least give them the verbal reaming of their life.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

That earned him a treat!

While I plod along with my curriculum these days, Drew continues to work on his. Because he missed class on Tuesday, I brought him to a Saturday specialty class. Usually that's a half hour class on one thing, like just sparring, or just forms, etc. Today, I was bringing him to forms class, as that's what he needs the most work on. The sparring class was before that, and while he has control issues, he does like sparring. "I want to be in that class the next time," he told me. I told him that the next time we come on a Saturday, he can do both. I think he likes one of the teen instructors, JK. I like JK too, he's very good. Between JK and BP on Saturdays, I think he responds to both those teen guy instructors well. I think part of what surprised me about going today was that Drew said he'd go willingly, and he didn't fight me about going. Maybe because he knew it was a shorter class, but he almost volunteered, which is not like him.

We get to class, and he has the wiggles, but he does try his best to control them, and he does lose his focus a bit, but no more than usual. There were two main highlights for me. The first highlight was that he was being very patient and behaving himself during drills. They were doing some floor exercises where they had to jump through a ladder-like thing for speed and footwork techniques. There were a lot of kids in the class, but at no point did he get in other kids' faces, and he kept his hands to himself, and didn't jump all around. He was patient and just waited his turn to go across the floor. That was a big deal in itself. But the bigger deal was when they were practicing the form. He's still the youngest and lowest ranked in there, and between that and his inability to always focus as much as he'd like (ADHD is SO much fun that way!), he was starting to lose his place and was having difficulty keeping up. He finally piped up, and told BP, who was leading the class at that point, that BP was going too fast, and could he please slow down a little bit? Oh, it was music to my ears! And I have to say, it was to BP's, as well as SW's when she heard what he did. We have been waiting for Drew to say something if it was going to frustrate him, to speak up if someone was going too fast, or if he needed some help. He finally did it! And of course, BP was more than happy to slow down a little bit, especially since it was a part that Drew didn't have to know, but he was trying to keep up with the kids who did have to know. This was huge! I don't think he's ever done that, and he did it very politely--not shouting it out or crying or having a tantrum or anything!

After class, I gave him positive praise, as did BP and so did SW when she heard. As she said, this is what we've been working towards for SOOO long. Let's hope he can keep this up! To appease the instant gratification in him (as we all have), I let him get a piece of candy from the convenience store next door to the do-jahng. He was very happy with his Wonka "Donut".

I really hope that some things that we've been working on at home, school, and at the do-jahng are really starting to click with him, like speaking up politely instead of flipping out, and he can still get a positive resolution in most respects. Let's see if this sticks now, now that he's seen that what we've been telling him actually works....