Rarely do I brag on my kids here, but in this case I can’t help it after an amazing week for Beckett.
More often than not this space contains the things that drive us up a wall with ourchildren. While those things certainly exist on a daily basis,
over the course of the last week, Beckett has impressed us with several achievements. He earned his first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, completed a school year with perfect attendance for the third time, made his travel soccer team and finished high in a school spelling bee.
It was quite a week for him. Per his style, he took it all in stride.
Perfect attendance for Beckett is not a goal every year. It’s definitely not for us. Going to school is just something he does each day. It’s never a fight to get him to go to school. He likes it. It helps that he’s only been sick a few times in his life. When it’s obvious he’s not 100 percent, he always says, “I’m fine, let’s go,” oftentimes while shoving cough drops in his pockets.
As the school year nears the final months, it does turn into a goal because it’s within reach. He fixates on it from that point because he likes the thought of not missing a day. I think this will serve him well in life moving forward.
I’m most proud of Beckett for achieving at 9 years old the rank of first degree black belt. It symbolizes more than four years of extreme commitment and dedication to a high goal. In fact, he has been training between two and four times a week in martial arts for more than half of his young life.
Last Saturday’s black belt test at Chesapeake Martial Arts was a proud moment for us. When he started karate at 4 years old, we were looking for something that would help with focus, self-control and respectfulness. It came at the suggestion of his kindergarten teacher at the time.
That recommendation turned into a long-term goal that seemed at times to be too daunting for him. However, it wasn’t and Beckett always stayed positive. He has shown at a young age the ability to commit to something while juggling multiple other aspects of life. There was never a doubt in his mind he would become a black belt. He spoke of it as a certainty, while we were the ones full of doubt along the journey.
In his essay in response to the assignment, “What Tae Kwon Do Means To Me,” he wrote, “The black belt is a symbol of hard work, hustle, loyalty and respect. I will be proud to have it and will try not to brag about it, but I can’t promise I won’t.”
That sums up our boy well.
The old proverb goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.”
I agree wholeheartedly with this notion, and it goes way beyond the obvious sources, such as school, church and sports teams. I think it’s incumbent upon all adults to take some responsibility when it comes to keeping children on the straight and narrow.
I know that’s the approach I take when I’m playing sports with my son and his friends, chaperoning a school trip or attending a family function. It’s important for all adults to bring up the next generation with the right values and expectations.
That’s why I was particularly struck by a poignant column I came across by Karen Alpert on her online blog called babysideburns.com.
(ITALICIZE)“Dear stranger who disciplined my kiddo at the playground today,
“Woah woah woah, lemme get this straight. So today your daughter was trying to do the monkey bars? Okay, got it. And my kid was trying to do the monkey bars too? Simple enough. But since your kiddo is new to the monkey bars and takes forever and sometimes gets scared and stops right in the middle, my son had no choice but to go past her and sometimes bump her a little and she would fall and be all sensitive and start crying? Hmmm. Alrighty then.
“… does that give you a right to discipline my kiddo? Does that give you the right to talk to him sternly and tell him to knock it off? Does that give you the right to act like you are the person in charge when he is actually MY child?
“Ummmm, yes. YES IT DOES.
“I didn’t get the chance to say this today, but THANK YOU. Because if my kid is acting like a douchenugget and I’m not around for whatever reason, you have my permission to tell him to knock it off. I’m not saying you have the right to touch him in any way or yell at him uncontrollably (only I’m allowed to do that), but please feel free to tell him to stop being a jerkwad if he’s not waiting his turn to do the monkey bars. Or if he’s walking up the slide. … Or if he’s saying bad words. Or being a bully. …
“Because even if you aren’t his parent, you are the adult. Which means you are smarter than he is. And yeah, I know there are probably … out there who would be all pissy about some stranger getting mad at their kiddo, but not me.
“It takes a village. And these days our village might be a little bigger and more spread out and we don’t all sleep in side-by-side huts or ride in covered wagons or gather around the campfire at night and we don’t even all know each other, but we can either choose to have a village or not. And I choose to have a village.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there to do my job, so thank you for helping me do it.”