My very first semester teaching I had a student who did a speech about karate. His speech began with a 30 second, unintroduced, karate demonstration. He did not say one word. He donned his gi and went right into the routine.
When he finally spoke he talked about karate being centered around discipline, respect, loyalty and self-defense. He now runs a well respected karate school in a neighboring town.
I remember thinking, as I watched his speech, "I want my children to hold those values close. I hope they want to do karate."
A couple years later Pman was born and, for a very lone time, has asked to do karate. So last week, 2 days after his 5th birthday, we signed him up.
We have had many conversations about what karate, really he will be taking Tae Kwon Do, is not about. The goal is not to hurt someone out of malice, but defend yourself if needed. Pman is not a violent or even competitive person, so I really think these lessons will ring true with him.
A day or two after we signed him up, but before the first lesson, we were at a play date. The kids were mostly Pman's age, but CBL can usually keep up and she gets sharing and turn taking. She was right there with the big kids.
Then, I heard her cry. It was an "I'm hurt" cry not "He took my toy" cry. Pman was there, and a couple other kids. CBL kept saying, "Push. Push" and she was holding her head.
There was no blood and no one said anything. My head whipped around to Pman as I asked for some details.
The bottom line was someone pushed her to the ground, flat out. Apologies were said, play resumed. The end.
However, on the way home I couldn't let it go. I have an older brother. If someone pushed me, or hell even looked like they were going to push me to the ground, my brother would...well it would not end well.
I wanted my son to protect my daughter, and vice versa when she gets a bit older. There will be times in their lives when they need each other and I will simply not be there to sort the facts. I am a huge supporter of siblings supporting each other, it's how I was raised. We are a team, united front.
So, once we were home, I talked to Pman about the situation. He told me he thought CBL was pushed by accident. Honestly, so did I. I steered the conversation in the direction of what if it was on purpose. What if someone came up and pushed your sister to the ground on purpose and she was hurt?
Pman had no answer.
I said, "You push them back. If it's not an accident and someone pushes your sister or you, push them back. You will not get in trouble for defending yourself or protecting your sister." There was a bit more in there about try to tell an adult first and what to do if she is pushed by accident. But the overall message was if it's on purpose, push back.
Josh's answer to a purposeful push was, "If someone pushes your sister to the ground you punch them in the face." (Josh is not a violent person in the least, but obviously he is fiercely proctective of his daughter.)
I admit a bit extreme, but it's coming from my own home base- protect each other and stay united.
I am hoping Tae Kwon Do gives Pman the confidence and the dignity to stand up for what he knows isn't right, with his sister, himself or anyone being mistreated or bullied. I always say to him, "Don't do something you know is wrong or mean, even if everyone else is doing it."
I'm not sure how I feel about my "push back" advice, I do not even spank my kids, but I know that I won't always be there. The P's love each other deeply, but they all need to trust and protect each other too. I just want to help set that stage.