Karate kick out

Last 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 up in my diaper bag. The Dojo we attend gently invited us to enroll Rex in “private lessons”. In other words, he was being kicked out of class.

I get it, really I do. But standing behind my husband while the head instructor gave us the suggested course of action, I had to quickly make my escape before I bawled all over her Gi. He’s doing do much better, he wants to go, he loves to go–and now he can’t go.

I asked Jason if we would be able to finish out the month before starting four weeks of detention (aka more expensive private lessons), and he said yes, Rex could attend.

So Tuesday we walked into the Dojo and sat at the table. Three feet in front of us Rex’s class was called, one by one, to stand on the floor. Everyone was called but Rex.

They didn’t look at us.

They didn’t speak to us.

His teachers acted like we didn’t even exist.

Rex sat on my lap and played quietly with his lobster (come on, are we really that surprised?). But I don’t care how distracted he seemed, he knew exactly what was going on. We were not welcome, period. Even the head Sensei, the one who had made arrangements with my husband, treated us like we had some kind of disease.

I couldn’t escape to the car fast enough.

“Rex will not be going back to that place,” I told Jason in the privacy of our bedroom later that evening. “They don’t want us there, and I will not put my baby in that environment.”

Now, Jason tends to be less emotional than I. When I kick and scream, he looks thoughtfully out the window. When I throw hair brushes, he inspects his nails. When I over parent, he calls me on it.

“I am so sorry,” he said, “I misunderstood her…”

“No! I’m not taking him, you can’t make me!”

“Honey, I’ll gladly come home and take him my–”

“NO! I’ll hide him from you! You can’t make my baby go back there!” (Don’t ask my why I still think my theatrics will work on him.)

It will come as no surprise that I stayed up late with old episodes of Chopped and Cupcake Wars, determined to win this stand off. By the time I made it to bed the house was silent and my anger had cooled.

And wouldn’t you know that I didn’t get three words into my nightly prayer before the Lord made his desires unquestionably clear to my eternally stunted mind? I didn’t even have the chance to pray about it. It was like the answer was just waiting around, ready to dump itself into my brain the moment I opened the channels of communication.

This thing with Rex, it’s not about me. It’s not about protecting him or sheltering him or loving him, it’s about letting him. Letting him learn the hard things life is determined to throw at him, even at the tender young age of five.

As parents, sometimes we’re there to direct, sometimes we’re there to defend. But mostly, we just need to be there, believing that our little children are in someone else’s more capable hands.

Tonight Rex had his first private lesson. He cried for fifteen minutes and I wanted to die. But the last ten? He loved.

It’s a good thing I’m not in charge.


  1. This is the Battle Hymn of the LDS Woman, loud and clear.

  2. We are in the midst of potty training. Last night was terrible. This morning, I went against my instincts to try harder, and gave up. It feels a little weird. But I’m trusting that when my son is ready he’ll let me know somehow. I hope.

  3. It really does make me so sad for him. And you, my friend.

  4. I feel so sad for Rex. I remember how it was when they kicked my son out. No offer was even made for private lessons. It totally destroyed the Prince because it was something he loved so very much. My heart rejoices w/ you that Rex loved those last 10 min. Victory @ last!

  5. Poor Rex. I am glad he loved the last 10 minutes.

  6. This just breaks my heart to read! I’m so sorry for Rex and for you guys. What an awful experience. I hope the private lessons are wonderful and he loves them.

  7. I am so there with you. Right now. ‘Cept with basketball. While my 7 year old looks absolutely clueless, confused, and painfully shy.

    And then the coach, at church, asks if he likes it, tells him to practice, and to work on it.


  8. 1. It’s a cruel world, even for a five year old.
    2. You are wise for listening to what the Lord wants you (and Rex) to learn from this.
    3. You write beautifully.

  9. Well that totally sucks…………I think I’d be tempted to do one of my signature Karate Chops on that dude. I sooooo know as parents we want to defend our children!!
    And, like You, I am glad I am not in charge of the world…insisting that things go my way, or I’d screw things up ROYAL.

    and so the journey begins. love ya

  10. You have no idea how much I needed to read that today…..nuf said….

  11. Sometimes as a parent it is so easy to forget that our little ones are also here on earth to learn and grow. They are also on their own life’s path. I hear ya about wanting to protect them, but obviously the Lord has a journey in store for Rex and he is already learning (and so are you) the things he needs to be successful.

    My heart ached when I read this, but I am so grateful for knowing there is a bigger picture. Good thing you know it or that Sensai may never have known what hit him…

  12. I learned that same lesson last week. I will be writing my own post on it today. Feel free to check it out. I am so sad for poor Rex, but maybe these private lessons will catch him up with the group and he can come back to group practice afterwards. Good job being a thoughtful, in tune, fantastic momma!

  13. Just found you via C Jane- glad I did. I sure hear you about hoping letting them learn, but it’s awfully hard. Glad it’s working out in its own way.

  14. Being a mom hurts worse than anything I have ever experienced before. It hurts so so so good.

  15. this is coming. for me. i can feel it. I’m bookmarking this for the day it hits.

  16. http://pcdub.blogspot.com/2011/01/lesson-learned.html

    There’s the link to my similar life lesson. You are so fantastic!

  17. Annie, I’m sorry. I can’t believe they could just ignore you and your little boy like that. I’ve thought about putting my 4 yr. old in karate, but I’m afraid of the same thing. He has so much energy and seems to love not conforming.

  18. Oh annie, I am so sorry. I know how hard this is, trust me on this one. Sometimes, you just have to put aside your own needs and trust that God is in control. In a way we don’t understand yet, this is just what your little boy needs. I have so been there, and I promise that it will be worth it. Good for you listening to the spirit instead of pushing for your own way. Sometimes, when we want something so badly, we try to make it feel right, even when it isn’t. That will make the spirit back off and let us learn. You are amazing to hear and be willing to listen first time around!

  19. Maybe I’m oversimplifying this, but I really have a hard time understanding how someone can do this to a 5 year old. Are the rest of the kids Olympic hopefuls? Expecting an attack from 6 year old ninjas? What’s with all the urgency for conformity? It’s a karate class for 5 year olds, for hell’s sake! Honestly, Annie, I think you need to find another dojo. I don’t always advise that we go forum shopping, but this one just doesn’t feel right. There are as many different kinds of teachers and classes as there are people. Rex is too little to be subjected to that kind of rejection. At his age, it’s absolutely unnecessary.

    • annie valentine says:

      That’s what I said. Actually, the class is 3-5 so it should have been just fine. Jason wants him to finish this, at least for a month, so he can leave on a good note and not get the impression that we’re just walking away because it’s uncomfortable. I won’t make him do this for long if things don’t totally turn around. I told him four more times and he can be finished if he wants. I don’t really know what I’m doing here, but that seems like my best bet for his sake.

  20. Amen.

  21. Glad you were listening 🙂