Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Road


Last night a teacher called and told us our son had hit another kid in the face at school. Our kid was being teased and he lost his temper. We acted like normal concerned parents – we spoke to our son and wanted to know his side of the story.
How much behavioral  correction is needed?
  
He denied all wrongdoing vociferously. As the teacher did not see the incident, my wife felt a mistake had been made. But later at bedtime he admitted he had done the deed.

As punishment he lost all screen time until Monday, and I have confiscated his iPod Touch. This brought angry tears and screaming, which was good, for this behavior is unacceptable and I wanted to reach him with a significant consequence.

This morning my wife spoke with the teacher who admitted that at parent-teacher conferences some of the staff had been holding back about our son’s behavior, telling us all was going well when attention to certain behaviors might have been appropriate.

Adding to our concern, my son is an avid student of martial arts. He spends at least three days a week practicing punching and kicking, so his striking another kid has ramifications beyond the immediate incident.

To test for the next level belt, the teacher, the parents (us), and the instructor all have to agree the kid has shown respect and good behavior. If he misses a test his friends will advance without him and he will be devastated.
"The road to enlightenment has many paths."

The good news is that the next test is several weeks away. I want my kid’s martial arts to be meaningful to the extent that if he has to miss tests due to personal development issues then sobeit.

My worry is that that he will take the missing of a test so personally he will turn away from the practice.

When I lived in Taiwan and spoke Mandarin, a frequent saying roughly translated was “we walk one road.” On some issues there can be no equivocation. I know in years to come bad decisions will haunt me, but when the kid signed up for martial arts he signed up for the full program of self control and responsibility. A shame if he only sees the physical aspects of the practice.

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