Friday, February 25, 2011

the fine art of fighting

(image from luigi diamanti)
For some reason, my beautiful, sensitive, funny, clever, and creative boy has trouble making friends.
I don't know why. He isn't a bully, he's loyal and friendly, he loves to share -- but kids just don't like him.

This does seem to be a family trait though -- his dad and I were the same, and so were nearly all his siblings. Once we make friends, we keep them for life -- but we tend not to have a large circle of friends.

We've tried all kinds of tactics in the last 7 months -- inviting people after school and on weekends, getting to know other parents, joining in on activities etc -- but no go so far, and to make things worse, there are about 8 boys who live in the two streets here, and they only rarely allow him to join in their games.
It's breaking my heart to watch him go off to ask if he can play, and coming home trying not to cry because they've told him to get lost or they'll bash his head in.
One later apologised because his mum read him the riot act, and they have made up. Since he lives over our back fence, that was something of a relief, and I'm very grateful to his mum for intervening.

But still. Clearly we needed to try something new.

So I rang the local karate club, and last night took Mr9 for his first training session.

And he LOVED it.

The kids are all friendly and helpful, because Sensei says so. They greet one another, sit in a circle, and talk about what they learned at school today. There are kids aged from 17 or 18 down to one tiny little 5 year old, from several different schools, and they all get along well. Because Sensei says so.

They train pretty hard, and there's no time (or tolerance) for mucking around -- and Sensei demands instant respect, without raising his voice or using A Tone. He clearly loves what he's doing and is a born teacher.

I'm not about the fighting. I'm about my boy learning some focus, some self-respect, some discipline, some confidence, and some physical skills.
And if he can make a friend along the way, that would be just fine too.


  1. Toni it's heartbreaking when our kids find it hard to make friends...but I think taking your boy to martial arts is a step in the right direction. Even though they "have to like and respect" each other because Sensei says so this isnt a bad thing...this allows them all to get to know each other and maybe just maybe they will discover that the kid they thought wasn't cool or funny or whatever is actually ok. Also the learning of discipline is great especially in such a structured situation. I played judo for many years and the discipline I learnt then still stands me in good stead.

  2. Thanks Maree. There's a lot to be said for an adult telling kids how to behave. It's almost like -- ummm -- parenting.

  3. Oh Toni that is sad and such a worry for you as his mum.
    I think Martial Arts is a good move.
    With a good teacher they learn so much about them selves, life, discipline and respect and these qualities shine through xx

  4. I cant imagine how hard it is to watch your son feel the heartbreak of being treated like that. He is such a smart, intelligent boy. He speaks at a very articulate level, and has an extraordinary mind that is constantly moving, figuring, calculating. He has a very "old" intelligence to him. Its amazing to watch him interact. He will find a niche he fits into eventually, and when he does, he'll shine.

    I think he will love his classes.

  5. That is so hard for you. We have had similar stuff with our boy. He is very friendly, thoughtful and soft hearted. But this dosent always go down well with other boys. We started him at Scouts last year (after considering martial arts too). He is surprised himself how much he enjoys it. And the main leader there is really great also. Thank goodness for people who run these things for kids and do it well.

  6. seaside chik -- THANKYOU. We think he's pretty cool (like his Big Bro) :)
    I hope you don't have similar problems with the two little fellas. They're so gorgeous, Granma would HATE to see them sad.

    Toru -- I'm glad your guy is loving Scouts, he's such a creative and thoughtful kid.
    And yes, HOORAY for those amazing people who put so much time and effort into kids.

  7. Oh Toni, the scene you describe with the boys on the block is just heartbreaking. Kids can be so cruel. My boy is somewhat shy and sensitive and I wonder how he'll fare in such situations as he grows older.

    I think the martial arts training is an excellent idea, especially if he enjoys it. It will help him build confidence and feel respected. What a great idea. xx

  8. Well done you for seeking out something for him. That's good parenting right there. It's hard to watch your kids working it all out - but with you on his side he'll be fine :)

  9. Structured classes like this, especially with a good teacher are great for kids that would otherwise end up alone at home with books for company. Not that books are bad, but kids need other kids.

  10. That's a great idea to build confidence and find a safe place to fit into!!

    AND ... it's got the added bonus of a possible role in Karate Kid #36!!!

    Have a great weekend!

  11. Oh hun, my heart breaks for him but this karate plan sounds like a winner! And who knows, his new found skills might just win him some friends outside of the gym.

  12. I had tears at the start of this post, reading about what happened to him with the boys in the neighbourhood. I am so sad for your son, and you and Fabio - and also worried that this may happen to my kids one day! You never know what's going to happen and it's always such a worry.
    Karate was a brilliant idea. I'm thinking of something like that for my son when he's a bit older, that or Scouts - something that's a real worldwide community or the same in different countries, so if we end up moving back and forth, at least he'll have some familiar links.
    I hope it goes really well.
    I'm so happy for your boy :)

  13. Oh Toni - I have been through this too and it is one of the most heartbreaking things as a mother to go through..

    Thinking of you


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