Lost belts and responsibility

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It was, as usual, a crazy Saturday morning. Tae Kwon Do class starts at 10, so we need to be ready to leave the house around 9:30. Hays was lollygagging, playing with the cat, instead of brushing his teeth and unloading the dishwasher as I’d reminded him to do no less than three times. We were running behind, so I told him to go ahead and get into his uniform. He did, but couldn’t find his belt. Students are required to wear their color belts in class.

My 10-year-old’s demeanor changed dramatically as he looked in the Traverse, where he was sure he’d left his bag, only to find an empty seat. I reminded him the car was not where his bag should be stored, his closet was.

I love the Ohio Valley Tae Kwon Do School more for the life lessons students learn than the technique and sport. I knew exactly what was going through Hays’ head as we drove down Highway 64, toward his fate.

Master Crecelius doesn’t mince words and he can be hard on the students. Darin and I love that. When it’s time for testing he’ll ask a 9-year-old, “Who’s going to pay for your testing?” Inevitably, he replies: “Mom and Dad.” “Why aren’t you paying? Mom and Dad pay for classes. It’s expensive. If you don’t pay, you need to do extra chores to make up for it. Mom and Dad can’t always pay for everything.”

If a student fails to address a black belt as “Sir” or “Ma’am” they get an earful about respecting those in authority. If they don’t pay attention or try their best, they’re going to be lectured. If a student’s uniform is wrinkled, they hear about neatness, the importance of appearance and self-respect. And if they forget part of their uniform … oh, Hays knew he was going to get it all right.

I was actually a bit glad. Those kids don’t want to disappoint Master Creceilius and I knew it would make an impression on him if he got lectured in front of the class about being responsible for his uniform and making sure he has it every time. As luck would have it, Master Crecelius was out of town that weekend and a black belt was in charge of class. Those guys tend to be real softies with the kids, so no lecture was delivered.

The morning certainly didn’t have the lasting effect I was hoping for. Maybe the fear Hays felt on the way to the school will make him more responsible and encourage him to get this things together well before he needs them. And maybe it will encourage me to stop reminding him so much. He’s old enough to be more responsible.

Maybe he’ll get the belt next time. And if he doesn’t …

stephanie@salemleader.com

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