karate chop

With a little nudge from Rex’s child psychologist, we decided to enroll him in a number of extracurricular activities this winter. He’s five, but his anxiety really holds him back emotionally. He’s more like a three-year-old in a lot of ways, so I basically have three-year-old twins, which means I’d like to bang my head against the door knob at least fourteen times a day.

Last week we started karate at a highly recommended Dojo here in Layton. Unfortunately, they were running a special (which we didn’t realize) so 57 other 5-7 year-old’s decided to sign up as well. Talk about karate chaos.

Watching Rex try to do Karate is kind of like watching a gold fish try to dance the polka. He’s so cute, and so funny, and so kicking around in left field. I’m already seeing a huge improvement (tonight was his fourth class), but even so he’s always at least one Ki ai (hi-ya) behind the rest of the class, and prone to somersaults and standing on his head when he’s supposed to be watching the Sensei. I think he gives the teacher hives, he’s so polar opposite your typical little soldier.

To be honest, it’s funny and slightly painful to watch him. I want him to have a blast. I want him to learn to listen. I want him to get some energy out. I want him to act his age. There are a million things I want him to get out of this experience, and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

Like all things we try to teach our kids, I’m experiencing a learning curve. This karate business is showing me that I can’t make people like my kid. I adore him. He’s hysterically funny, totally quirky, and all about hakuna matata.

But no matter how hard the karate teachers try to enforce seriousity, Rex is more than a little too loosey goosey for their comfort level. I can see and feel their irritation, I know first hand how exasperating it is. Yesterday there were a few moments when I just wanted to cover my face with my hooter hider and go out to the car.

I also see how much better he’s doing in just four classes, and how great this has been for him. I don’t want to take that away just because it makes me cringe to watch.

There’s nothing I can do to make them see how compassionate and tender-hearted and sweet tempered he is. My little boy is special, and fun, and doesn’t really care too much about conformity.

It’s hard to watch other people dislike my boy.


  1. They shouldn’t be exasperated if he’s just being silly, now if he was a snotty kid or crying the whole time–THAT gets exasperating. But just not listening, well they should be used to that. When I taught preschool it was the really naughty kids that made it hard, but if they were a sweet kid that just had a hard time listening, that was MUCH easier to deal with. The personality makes ALL the difference! I bet he’s the cutest thing ever!

  2. I fell your pain. It’s shocking when we realize that our perfect little angel is not going to be everyone’s favorite. It broke my heart the first time this happened with my oldest. My husband wanted to punch the teacher in the face, but I have issues with visiting the baby daddy in jail, so he refrained.

    Mama Growing Pains hurt.

  3. AND! That would FEEL. not fell.

    whatever. i’m tired.

  4. I think you and I match from our cesarean scars right to being the proud owner of a crazy five-year-old. I’ve been told (in church, no less) that things are better when my little one is not around. I’ve shed so many tears over how to help this kid “be normal.” I wish everyone could see him burst into tears when someone he knows gets hurt, or how he figures out things kids twice his age can’t do. Or how he gives the best hugs EVER.

    I hear ya. Letting them be the way God designed them has been an incredible lesson to learn.

  5. Phooey on them. I say find a class that has a teacher who GETS him.

    I’m guessing the child psyche would say that the TEACHER is way more important that what the teacher is teaching.

  6. mom of a mob says:

    I’m torn… I totally agree with That Girl to protect his little psyche & find someone who “gets” him, but if Rexie is in his own bubble & loves the class & the teacher, etc., then I say suck up the chagrin & hang in there! He’s a young 5, & you already seem improvement after 4 classes. Go REX!! chop chop

    I have an amazing, artistic, academically gifted 11-year old son who is incredibly insightful on a completely different level than most of us. He also struggles with high fuctioning Autism, ADHD, & a tic syndrome. Social graces are coming along s l o w l y , & it’s hard to see his peers & other adults only focus on his “bad” behavior without understanding WHO he is or how FABULOUSLY he is doing, in spite of all he has to deal with. I liken it to a normal kid riding a bike, v.s. my son – who is riding a bike while pedaling with one foot, & bouncing a yo-yo with one hand!

    There are adults who LOVE my son – his interesting comments, his quirky sense of humor, yet acknowledge his challenges. But there are also adults – caring, kind individuals in other circumstances – who don’t seem to want to even TRY to get him, including a former church leader who has told me in no uncertain terms to keep my son away from him & his property. *sigh* I did cry over that one…

    I have had to let go of my preconceived ideals/goals for my son & let him be who he is, guide him to find his strengths, & pray that he will be understood & loved by those who will have the most influence for good.

    I think I’m starting to get an idea of the love/suffering our Heavenly Father experiences for His children…

  7. mom of a mob says:

    Sorry Anne, for blogging on your blog! I should get one of my own… xoxo

  8. My youngest is the sweetest, most pleasant kid around – and has no friends. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why, or explain the complicated dynamics of adolescent relationships. But it’s heartbreaking. I want Rex to come down here and kick all those 15 year old jerks in the throat.

  9. You should let Adam teach him karate. He’s a second degree black belt ninja. He was teaching karate when I met him. He could teach some good throatpunches.

  10. I hope you are able to keep him unique. So many children try to mold themselves after thier peers. Really though, how many times after hw graduates from school will he ever be in large groups of people that are all his age? It’s kind of unnatural IMO. Love your blog.

  11. You have quite a way with words, I think this is some of your best writing lately.

    Love to Rexy from his cousin Kelly and other little cousins here in WA. 🙂

  12. I am a mom of a son who was diagnosed with “high functioning” Asperger’s Syndrome. Even though our situations are different, I COMPLETELY understand your feelings. My son is VERY compassionate, always defends the underdog, and finds so much JOY in living LIFE! His entire life he has met people that do not understand him. The difference…..my son is now 19.

    When he was growing up, my heart would ache when kids his age, well meaning extended family members, neighbors, and even adults from our church, would ignore or make fun of him. I wish I could tell you that we found a “fix” for all that. We didn’t. And occasionally it still happens……HOWEVER……he knows how much he is loved, he has a couple of very understanding friends, and he is happy. And as an added bonus, over the years there have also been neighbors, adults from church, and extended family members that have been understanding and have also been encouraging and helpful. So I guess my advice would be…..Don’t give up. Just love him, and let him KNOW you love him for being HIM. Life is like a roller-coaster ride. Just hold on, and enjoy seeing things the way he sees them. He will grow up much too fast.

    If all else fails, I recommend the “bunny chunks” ice-cream from Blue Bunny.

  13. Ah, gotta love motherhood sometimes. It’s always hard when you think someone may not like your child, or you hear that possibly your perfect child may not be all that perfect. But you love them anyway, and you know what? That’s all they really need right now.

  14. That makes me so sad—I read your stories about him and think he must be one of the best five year olds around. I hate to think of other people not getting the chance to realize how great the kids can be. Hope karate and everything else works out.

  15. My 17 year old is mentally retarded. I was the meddling mama who wanted to make sure she behaved and that everyone likes her and I WAS A NERVOUS WRECK. Our church had to petition ME to let her go on an all week camp-out. I kept saying “I won’t do that to you”. It bothered me that everybody didn’t like her and I wanted to protect her from it.

    I finally let go and guess what? Some people don’t like her. But some people don’t like my other kids either. (sometimes even ME!)

    I’m sure he will be fine and he’s wonderful and I bet he is having a fabulous time in karate! Chop, chop, Rex! And Hakuna Matata!

  16. and this is why I *DO* sit in the car. The studio we go to actually encourage you to. My 4 year old totally picks up on my nervous, worrying energy…plus she acts better when I am gone. They know I am sitting in the car right in front of the window if they need to throw her out at me 😉 Karate has been good for her though! Even though she is probably the least behind in the class. I can sympathize, it is hard…hard hard.

  17. whoops i meant MOST behind…

  18. We have a six year old whose anxiety makes him seem much younger, and he sort of ‘acts out’ in group situations like sports. Problem is, he doesn’t look nervous, he just looks like a poorly behaved immature weirdo. And it’s amazing what I’ve seen so far in the different behaviors brought out by a teacher that likes him and gets him versus a teacher or who does not. I want to hide in the car sometimes too, or pretend mine is the kid playing first base like he’s a major league pro (you know, the one whose dad yells coaching instruction from the bleachers in T-ball while I’m yelling at my kid to quit pulling his shirt over his head?) But I keep telling myself God made him this way for a purpose, and he made him mine for a reason. But it’s hard sometimes, especially when the rest of the world can’t see the great kid behind that public appearance.

    • annie valentine says:

      Suzi, I am so feeling you with the “poorly behaved immature weirdo”. The things that make him cute and fun in our family don’t really go over well in the outside world.

  19. I know what you mean! People have always had a hard time seeing past Jacob’s ADHD, after his meds have worn off. I want to make a digital sign that scrolls across the top of his head that says “yes, I know that he seems insane right now and wicked impulsive, and I’m sorry that he was playing around and just put your four year old in a head lock. But he’s a really great kid who loves to read and learn, he is the best big brother in the world (but only to his little brother, but we won’t mention that) he is helpful around the house, and he is really starting to have some great spiritual experiences!! So please see past his crazy!”

  20. Listen to me Annie. Listen closely. I have been where you are. I am where you will be.

    Create a safe place at home. Don’t wish for him to be normal – pray only that he can be the very best version of himself.

    I used to feel that I would be betraying or pigeon-holing my child if I shared with teachers/other adults that my kiddo struggles with different things. I’m over it. This helps THEM bring their A-game. It helps them shift THEIR paradigm. It requires that THEY be more creative in their teaching style. All I require of my kid is to always try HER best, be respectful and never give up. Rex will be fine. His parents are smart enough to get him some help early on and more importantly — give him love, love, love.

  21. My son was actually asked not to come to karate anymore. They said that he was too young/immature (he was 5) to be in the class. I still don’t get it. He was 5 & acting like a 5 yr old boy who loved Power Rangers. And I was just talking w/ one of my sis today on a very similar subject.

    Hopefully some of the other kiddos will get bored & then the sensei will have more patience w/ Rex & the other kids who are left. I know it hurts but if he’s enjoying himself & it kinda sounds like he is, then let him stay. Or let Kristina’s hubby teach him!

  22. I am so sorry! I totally get other people not liking your kid. I have one with tourettes and it has been the hardest thing we have ever had to go through. Sometimes you just want people to recognize “normal” in your kid. They are totally amazing. I don’t know if things will get better, but hopefully they will, or he will learn that it isn’t important what other people think. The most important thing is what he thinks about himself. If he believes he is amazing, he will be amazing. One thing we have learned is these kids that have a hard time are the most amazing compassionate and wonderful kids around. They learn to accept others for themselves and overlook the differences. It think they learn strength and character too. Go Rex!! You can do it!!

  23. I hear ya. This is very much like the story of my oldest.

    I think as long as we make sure our kids know we love and accept them for all of their quirky selves, they’ll be ok. I hope so, anyway!

    Fortunately, for our boys, they’ve got great moms who love the holy crap outa them!

  24. Good post Annie-I’m in the the middle of trying to figure out if mine has anxiety…more testing here we come! don’t worry too much! Rex is going to kick butt!!

  25. It is so hard to see people not like your child. Was so there a year ago, my sweet child kicked out of preschool, kids club, houses of neighbors and friends. But then it was so amazing to watch that one person love her for all her craziness. Then one turned into two and now she has a group of people that love her through the whole day and night. It was an answer to prayer! I really needed some one else to see through her hard shell and just love her! She is a different child and I am a different mother and a more patient person especially with other kids who are looking for somebody to love and except them. Thanks for the post!


  1. […] week after writing about Rex (5) and his karate class, we received some unsettling news. Oh let’s face it, it was crappy news and I wanted to throw […]

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