What Color is Your Belt?

Karate gee with a white belt and various stripes

His currect karate gee and belt.
Notice how dirty it is.
BR needs a new yellow belt for multiple reaons.

Is there anything better than achieving a goal?

 

You can look back on the frustrations, times when you felt like quitting, and the moments you wondered if it was all worth it. They all melt away.

Instead, you revel in accomplishment. You can feel proud, appreciate your stick to itness, and you know that the next goal can happen too.

 

The greatest thing you get when you achieve a goal is confidence. I know I can, I know I can.

 

Tomorrow BR will be testing for his yellow belt. I’ve mentioned before how he felt when he got a stripe (http://larrydbernstein.com/earning-your-stripes/). This is bigger. A NEW BELT!

I am excited. I’ve been calling BR every morning while on my way to work to remind him to practice. I’ve watched and instructed based on what Sensei says during practices. BR is primed!

 

A friend of mine said, “Wait till he goes for that green belt or higher. He’ll feel like he can protect himself.”

 

My friend, while a great guy, has it all wrong. Karate and the new belt are not about enabling BR to go all Bruce Lee on the next person who dares mess with him.

 

Sure, it would be nice if he could be the family protector should danger arise. However, that’s not what I care about.

 

I do care that a kid who has o.t. issues is feeling more in control of his body.

 

I do care that a kid who has ADHD is finding a way to focus and discipline himself.

 

I do care that a kid who has anxiety is able to feel a sense of accomplishment.

 

It’s been a year and a half since BR began his twice weekly karate sessions. There have been times where he has practiced little, and I questioned what he got out of it. There have been days where I have stressed about getting him there and back. There have been sessions where BR appeared nonchalant, disinterested, and unable.

 

I suppose that is why many kids are able to earn a yellow belt much quicker.

 

So what. The great length of time that has passed does not make this potential accomplishment any less special.

 

Tomorrow afternoon I will be in the audience silently praying and offering instructions to BR as he goes through the testing for the yellow belt. Afterwards, I will hug him tightly (he may even let me do it in public) and tell him how proud of him I am – whether he is wearing yellow belt or not. He has already achieved a worthwhile goal.

It’s Not the Caffeine

Mrs. O’Donnell: Do you want some tea?

Me: No thanks.

Mrs. O’Donnell: Do you want some coffee?

Me: No thanks.

Mrs. O’Donnell: What do you drink in the morning?

This conversation took place in a small English town – Elsemere Port circa 1993.  My friend’s mother was doing her best to be a hostess – doesn’t everybody want caffeine? Well, I was just a confusing American who was content with some juice.

Odd me, I am one of those people who does not enjoy caffeine in the morning. However, we all know people who need caffeine in the morning. My wife springs to mind. You don’t want to get in her way before she gets her caffeine buzz. This reasonable decent woman is replaced by a cranky snippy thing who must be tiptoed around. Enough about this alternative personality, I don’t want to think about it.

BR, my older son, is very bright. He is sensitive. He is caring. He is silly. Now, most of the time my boys are friends with the same odd sense of humor.  Yes, of course they get into fights like brothers do – take it from someone who has three older brothers. The mornings, in particular, are difficult as the boys seem to be unable to coexist during this time of the day.  In fact, my wife typically keeps the children in separate rooms so some form of tranquility can exist. While SY can be content to completely zone out watching whatever – really whatever is on television, BR is off the wall.

You may be wondering why BR is so challenging in the morning.  No, my 8 year-old does not have a caffeine addiction. He has ADHD (emphasis on the H in his case) which affects people in different ways and often works in tandem with other issues. In the morning before his medicine kicks in, I imagine his brain as being incapable of handling all the stimuli. Therefore, his morning actions which are often unreasonable are practically out of his control. He hears my wife and I and even his little brother attempting to disciple, calm, and placate him but does not seem capable of acting upon those requests.

Once the medicine kicks in, BR’s positive traits noted above are more readily apparent. He can still be challenging, as boys his age can be, and has his challenges. So, my wife and I strive to recognize his needs and what will work to enable him to utilize his positive traits and fulfill his tremendous potential.  Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as caffeine.