Friday 30 May 2014

When practice doesn't make perfect...

... but is it's own reward.

Hands up who out there has children who are not particularly sporty?

Yes, that's me, right at the front of the room, waving my arm in the air in the slightly embarrassed manner of a parent who would love her children to be superstars on the sports field but who knows that genetically, they haven't been dealt the strongest of decks.

If Husband is reading this he will no doubt be throwing up his hands in horror at my defeatist attitude, but even he - supportive of me and all my failings as he is - can't deny that what I say is true.  I am not a natural sports person, being a bit crap at anything that involves motion faster than - well, a walk, really.  But.  I am married to a man who's family are much better at this stuff than I am, and with whom I am in complete agreement that some form of regular physical exercise - and I don't mean walking to the library - is essential for the growth of a healthy child.  At least whilst they're still at an age that we can push them into it, anyway.

Consequently, Boys #1 and #2 take part in a couple of extra curricular physical activities over and above the excellent programme provided by their school, one of which - TaeKwonDo - requires their attendance in the early evening twice a week, come rain or shine.

Boy #1, biddable first child that he is, is fine with this.  He enjoys it, more or less buys into it, and participates with enthusiasm. He even practices from time to time.   Boy #2?  Well, not so much.  We have frequent arguments about whether he is, or isn't, going to go to class.  (He is going to go.  He knows that, I know that, and sometimes the neighbours know that too - especially in the warm weather with the windows open).  I have tried one strategy after another to get him out of the door on time, only hitting on the most effective by mistake in the last couple of months (more on what that is in a moment*).  Why do I bother, you might ask?  Is getting him to take part in a TKD session (that's what we call it in type, by the way, we seasoned TaeKwonDo parents - TKD.  Get me...) really that beneficial?  Is it worth all the angst?

The short answer is yes.  Not only is it great discipline which trains him listen to and follow the instructions of the teacher whilst also giving him a chance to run around and burn off energy in a sports hall in a country which for 5 months of the year is too cold to spend much time outside (I'm tough on my boys but not 'No you can't come back in you've only been outside in -18degC for 25 minutes' tough), but the fitness regime it encourages is fantastic.  And crucially, once Boy #2 actually gets to the class, he loves it.  And that, at the close, is the clincher.  If he hated it whilst he was there then I wouldn't make him go.  Probably.  But he doesn't.  He finishes the sessions, bright eyed, bushy tailed and happy he's been.

However, what he won't do in between sessions is practice.  According to him - whenever I ask him if it might not be a good idea to run through his moves - it doesn't make any difference; he's not going to be any good.

Something seems to be changing, though.  He knew he had a belt test this evening and was prepared to practice at least a little.  So he did.  Admittedly, it was very last minute.  And if I'm honest, there were still ragged patches in the 'form' he needed to run through.  But he did it - and it did the trick.

Boy #1 put in a stellar performance and made it from orange to green belt, and Boy #2, despite one or two mistakes, graduated from yellow to orange belt - when most of his class didn't - and was delighted.  So delighted in fact that he even turned to me when the grading was over and said "Thankyou!  Thankyou for making me practice!!!"

He meant it, too.

Now.  I wonder if we can try this approach with his piano lessons...?

*That strategy?  It's a little known practice - in this household, anyway - called 'Mum making dessert'.  Namely, pancakes.  Whoever eats the pancakes is committing to go to taekwondo.  Simple!


  1. Ah, pancakes! I think we call that bribery... the strongest weapon in the parents' arsenal.

  2. I know it, Iota!


Go on - you know you want to...