There were big doings here on the Little Farm this past Saturday. Well, the doings weren't actually ON the Farm, but they did involve Farm inhabitants. After five years of study and two hours of intense testing, our second son, Jake, earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Needless to say, we are very proud!
One of the things The Big Guy and I try to help each of our children find is something that is "theirs." Something they love, a hobby for lack of a better word. We don't want their "thing" to be merely an activity to keep them busy. It is easy to sign your kids up for 7 million different activities, but they'll be so busy and scattered, they'll only scratch the surface of each. No, we want something they can dig into and learn.
We know this thing may not and probably won't be the same for each child and we're good with that although it sure would be easier to have a one-size-fits-all thing. We also aren't willing to sacrifice the life of our family for one child's thing - we've got limited resources of time and money which need to be spread out to all. It's no small task and the cause of much thought and many prayers.
When Jake was 7, we came upon Tae Kwon Do. It became his thing. For the first few years, he loved it. Tae Kwon Do was a perfect fit for our disciplined, justice loving guy. We loved the confidence - socially, emotionally and physically - he gained from it. The sport/martial art/whatever it is also reinforced things we were teaching him at home in many ways. After all , the Tenets of Tae Kwon Do are Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit. Who wouldn't want a son exhibiting these traits? We do and he does.
Jake rose quickly though the belt ranks - white, yellow, green, green with blue tip, blue, blue with brown tip, brown, brown with black tip. He did all this in about 3 years. And then he stalled.
There are several reasons for the stall - lazy/busy parents who wouldn't/couldn't get him to the extra practices, his interest waned a bit, the requirements were a lot for a 10 year old to handle - I'm not exactly sure. But there we were. He still liked going to class each week to see his friends, but the commitment to the actual thing wasn't there.
After year 4, he wanted to quit. He only had his black belt test left! He was so close! More prayers and thinking. The powers that be (the Big Guy and I) decided no quitting. He needed to finish. Jake wasn't thrilled at first, but he hung in there. The past three months, especially, he has worked very hard and with some difficult circumstances. And he did it! Not only did he do it, Jake really made it his own. The Big Guy and I asked often if he needed help with anything and were always told, "No. I've got it."
At his testing on Saturday, Jake performed forms (a series of offensive and defensive movements) for each of the past belts he has earned, sparred with black belts, demonstrated self-defense techniques, recited the entire history of Tae Kwon Do for a gym full of people (and did so like a polished public speaker) and threw/flipped/tackled a grown man much larger than he. It was such fun to watch! He didn't even seem nervous. Have I mentioned we were proud?
I seriously doubt Jake will take to wearing his actual black belt around in his everyday life; they just don't make the coolest fashion statement. Although with all it took to earn it, who would blame him? However, he will be wearing all the great lessons he's learned from the journey to earn that black belt. Actually, he's already been wearing them more and more as he's grown. These lessons are more precious than the black piece of cloth and they go with everything. Way to go, Jake!
Oh yes, guess who wants to keep studying and earn his second degree black belt?