Mycroft Holmes: What do we say about coincidences?
Sherlock Holmes: The universe is rarely so lazy.
I suspect that my son and I learning Taekwondo is no coincidence– that it is the universe’s way of helping us with all the fights and struggles. It’s way of strengthening us for current and future battles. I never had grandiose plans for both of us to train in Taekwondo, some sort of mother-son bonding experience. It just sort of happened, when other classes were full and this school called me back and answered my questions. And I never intended to do it with him, but… Thank goodness I am.
My kid broke my heart tonight. It’s not the first time, and won’t be the last.
Kids with CAS (Childhood Apraxia of Speech) are typically perfectionistic, and along with this my son has a keen sensitivity to the thoughts and moods of others. We’ve had this CAS thing going on for years now, and all of his life he can remember how people–adults and kids alike–have reacted to that. From adults asking “what language is he speaking?” to kids sitting next to us on an airplane “what’s wrong with him, I can’t understand him?”
Years and hours upon hours of speech therapy and practice, and today he’s saying ‘door’ in class. The boys are asking “what’s a doh?” and a brave girl corrects them “he’s saying DOOR.” He knows the reality of it.
Today was taekwondo class. Most days, we practice push-ups and core strengthening and poomsae. We’ve been working on Chun Gi a lot, and I have a video of him, at home, doing the whole thing by himself except for one hint from me at the end. All. By. Himself. Take that, apraxia! Poomsae require you to do certain movements in certain directions, and apraxia challenges your perception of where you are in space. So for my kid to make all the correct 180 and 90 degree turns in this poomsae? Well, this mama was PROUD! Even adults get confused in poomsae as we learn them, turning the wrong way or forgetting the sequence of punches and kicks.
Then he seems to forget it all in what, to him, is the chaos of class. He has trouble filtering stimuli to just what he needs, so he has a lot of extra visual, auditory and tactile stimuli headed his way all the time. A class with ten or more kids is a lot for him to filter out.
So, lying in his bed with him, bedtime story open in my hands, I see tears streaking down his face and soaking his pillow. Mommy, why can’t I remember it in class? I feel so intimidated when Mr. Ninja and everyone looks at me as I do it. I think all the white belts in class look at me and hope they don’t turn out to be like me. I’m so embarrassed.
OUCH. Heart. Broken.
I wiped his tears, gave him plenty of kisses, and tell him all the reasons he’s the best kid in the world. I know, you aren’t supposed to tell your kid they’re smart, you want them to develop grit and work hard. But sometimes, in tears lit by a green Ikea bug nightlight, you narrate all the admirable qualities you see in them.
I tried to give him “what you think of me is none of my business” lesson but I don’t think that went over. Probably too soon. Part of the reason I like taekwondo for kids is that it builds confidence and self-esteem and self-control. All things he could benefit from (heck, what kid couldn’t?)
In essence, he’s worried that the rest of the class–especially his fellow yellow belt student, the kid who started the same day as him and tested for yellow belt the same day– are moving ahead while he struggles.
My heart hurts.
My life has been overtaken by the fight to get this kid through all this…stuff. To get him through all these diagnoses, all these hurdles, the speech therapy, the occupational therapy, the vision therapy. I put a lot of energy into his education and development.
Because the battles just keep coming. Our first diagnosis (CAS) at 3 ½, and we are stunned and thrown but we had an awesome speech language pathologist. Then an expansion of CAS comes at 4, and we start occupational therapy. Next his vision is tested. We get another diagnosis and begin vision therapy. There were weeks where we did three to four speech appointments, two to three OT appointments and an hour of vision therapy. That’s the time IN appointments, not the homework they gave us.
I ask the universe– well, the universe may hear it as a shout laced with colorful words— why can’t it just be easy for a little bit? Can my kid have a WIN over here?
I’ve always been pretty honest with him, balanced that honesty with protecting him. I think kids have a wisdom to them, and just like in stories I think adults learn from kids as much as they learn from us.
So I told him, kiddo, we’ve got three choices.
1. You can quit. Do you want to keep going? Cause no one said you HAD to do it forever. What do you think?
- We just keep going and progress at our own pace. We don’t worry about when others learn their poomse or test for a belt. You are on your own path.
- We talk to Mr.Ninja, maybe get some private lessons, and see what we can work out as far as him being aware of how you get nervous and forget.
My kid opted for #3!
I was proud he didn’t choose to quit. I mean, if he’d he wanted to quit, I would have honored that.
Option 2 I knew he wouldn’t go for, because he is vested in moving ahead with the crowd.
Option 3 will cost me money and yet another meeting with Mr. Ninja, so it’s more work and logistics. But he wants to learn and do the work. How can a parent or teacher say no to that?
So here’s another battle in the long war of how best to guide his learning and development. My mind swims with questions and doubts. Was it the right thing to have done xyz? Was that last adaptive class the right choice? How can I help him see himself with more self-compassion? If there’s a parent who is 100% sure, all the time, that what they are doing is right, I’d love to meet them.
We move forward, learning as we go. As an adult I want him to look back and know that I have always loved him unconditionally and that I was there fighting with him as much as I could, every step of the way. The coincidental journey into Taekwondo will factor into those memories.