Oldest has been taking TaeKwonDo since March. It's probably been the best thing imaginable for him - he is painfully shy, very quiet, a sweet boy. Sweet boys are great around the house, but don't fare so well in their peer group. Since he's a July baby (he will be SIX soon!), we felt well within our rights to have him wait to go to Kindergarten as a young six v. a Very Young Five. Then I found our TaeKwonDo place, and it has been heaven-sent for him.
Oldest worked himself into a bit of a lather worrying about the test ahead of time; I could cheerfully deliver a swift uppercut to his father for talking ad nauseum a few days ago about it being fine and normal if Oldest was nervous and upset about the test! And also, it would be perfectly fine if he didn't pass the test! IDIOT! Gee, thanks for putting that clever idea in the kid's head! Oldest immediately got eyes the size of luncheon plates and commenced fretting and worrying. He woke up this morning without a care in the world - only concern was what to choose for breakfast. Then, here comes Daddy, trotting downstairs after breakfast has been prepared, eaten and cleaned up, bidding cheerful good mornings and then loudly declaring "Hey! It's TaeKwonDo Testing Day!" Oldest immediately knitted his eyebrows together and started worrying. Lovely. It was 9 a.m. He had a full five hours to dwell on it. We practiced his creed, counting, what belt meant what, some other things I thought might crop up.
We got there a half hour early so Oldest could gallop off some steam. No other small fry arrived for 15 minutes, so it was Oldest with 20 BIG kids - like high school and college aged. He tried to make himself invisible. Master Kim worked with him a bit and that loosened him up. Then four other Little Dragons showed up (4-6) and they started tearing around like the devil was on their heels. Everyone Oh'd and Ah'd seeing these darling little guys zipping around in the uniforms. Rosy apple-red cheeks and gleaming pearly whites, giggles and shrieks. So Cute. And one of them was my Very Own. One of the youngest two there.
There were many black belts there. Four were judges, and were eventually seated at a long, draped table. Two Korean men, one anglo man and one anglo woman. Oldest's group was called first - 3 college students testing for yellow, and the two smallest students. They tested the group of 3 oldest first, and I was praying Oldest was watching them do their routines. It took longer and they did more than I dreamed they would! My heart started pounding and I started getting really nervous - YIKES! Oldest has severe anxiety during tests - and he didn't know the entire routine at practice. He is the only white belt during his practice, and there are yellow and purple belt routines to go over. Anyway, Oldest and the other little one were called up, and the other kid took off like a rocket with his routine - leaving Oldest looking lost and forlorn. They have more than a few near misses and start giggling. The crowd giggles with them. The other boy almost fell over backward and did a Speedy Gonzales backshuffle and Parker stopped to watch. They were both giggling. The crowd was laughing. The Lead Judge called a stop to the routines, and had the other child go first while Oldest was seated and waiting. I could see Oldest getting pretty flushed - the backs of his ears were magenta. I started feeling sick to my stomach! Great! I have turned into my worst fear - the mother who collapses and pisses herself during her child's presentations! Master Kim saw that Parker was losing it, so he offered some words of immediate encouragement, which I think backfired. Parker then lost all confidence and his routine flew out the window. He ended up doing parts of it alone, parts of it shadowing Master Kim. I am now dying for him - I just know this is going to cork his TKD career, which means so much to him. But then he has a burst of confidence, I see his dimples appear and then a big grin - he remembers what to do! He finishes nicely. His form is pretty darn good. His gives a big bow and his little feet practically twiddle in midair with joy! He Is DONE. He Did It. I suddenly hear the crowd again. They are ohing and ahing his performance. A dad leans over to me and says "That is the cutest kid I have ever seen." I realize I have tears in my eyes. They spill over. I leaned back into my chair and started breathing again. Then I sat straight up again - all 5 of them are now up by the judges, and they are holding up boards for the students to break! Their are two groups, 3 older students and the 2 young ones. The other boy went first, and took 2 tries to break his board. The crowd applauded. Then it is Oldest's turn. I started to sweat bullets - he hasn't done much of this, and never very successfully with the yellow practice boards. Oldest stared intently at his board, steps-behind-steps and WHACK! The board snapped in two. Oldest stared at it in amazement. The crowd breaks into tremendous appplause. The judges give him alot of praise. The grin on Oldest is dazzling; I swear his molars made an appearance.
They then line them up, and critique every performance. Oldest seems to have lost the ability to speak. They cannot find a report card for his last term, and he cannot seem to answer the question "What grade are you in?" The judge asks "Parents, what grade is he going into?" I warble "Kindergarten, Ma'am" and find my voice is two octaves higher than normal. I curse myself for not bringing in his 20-page Montessori report, then think of the trouble I had deciphering it, and reckon I did the correct thing by leaving it home. Later I find that they discuss every single student's report card or GPA, the significance of good attendance and excellent grades, the importance of balance in life, with emphasis on schooling. They ask Oldest "Who are your heros?" and he is silent. They ask an older student and he quips "My mom and dad, sir!" and they ask Oldest again. He say "My Mom and Dad?" and I felt him cringe. The judge says "YES!" and then asked "Why?" Silence again. The Judge reminded Oldest of all we do for him, and asks the other young student for his answers. Both little boys were told that they should love their fathers and mothers very much. And they were instructed to run and find us right then, and tell us how much they loved us! I was almost bawling at this point! The crowd went "AWWWW!" as the other boy and Oldest sped over and gave huge hugs and kisses.
I was mpressed that they gave many of the students difficult questions to answer; not only about the Korean flag, nation, meaning of different commands and creed, but "What would you do if another kid at school was taunting you, even pushing you, trying to get you to fight?" I was very impressed when the waiting-to-test students were brought up on a short leash when they burst out laughing at an older student's somersaulting fall (It was funny) and the lead Judge bellowed "Next one who laughs get 100 pushups! Next time laugh get sent outside. For rest of the day!" Not Another Laugh was Heard, but there was some choking. The higher belts (blue, red, brown) sparred at the end. I was open-mouth shocked at the amount of THONKS and THUDS (they were helmeted, padded on chest, legs and feet) and full contact they had.
I thought I was the Big Emotional Weirdo until I witnessed every single parent reacting as I did. One father hid bent over in his chair while his high school daughter did her routine. Every time he watched her, he giggled! The dad next to me audibly grunted and rose an inch or two off his seat during his son's routine, and stopped breathing altogether when his son was unable to break the board with more than 15 tries. His head was buried in his hands and he missed the shot of his son breaking the board. Everyone wildly applauded when that board snapped. I saw parents' lips moving in silent supplication, and saw more than a few tears - it wasn't Just Me.
Then there was the Belt Presentation. All the judges hugged or patted Oldest and his little chest was puffed out like a Capon. Other students hugged Oldest, too. The girls really hugged and patted him. I found his snapped board (they keep them - I didn't know that) and shoes while he was wrapping up. Then suddenly he was in my arms, and my heart burst.
And what was dh doing the entire time? Videoing and wrangling Youngest. Who was bored shitless and starting to misbehave. They ended up leaving and running a few errands. Youngest came back in and shrilly whispered "MOMMY! I HAVE A SPRITE!" which made me levitate about 3" off my chair. It was Dead Silent at that point. Then Master Kim's 18 month old son Daniel let out a shriek as he spotted Youngest (they are buddies - Youngest brings a portable DVD player and Daniel watches the train movies, too) so they were hustled back outside poste haste. It was actually a good tension breaker.
I am beat. We also went out to dinner and celebrated Oldest's victory. And Oldest got to call all the relatives and crow a bit. He was still sporting the Capon Look as he went to bed. He told me he loved me and said "This has been the Best Day Ever, Mommy!" I told him "For me too, my love." And I think it truly was.