By the time I finish this post I will have decided to take the kids out of Tae Kwon Do

Every week, we take the kids to Tae Kwon Do. The teacher is wonderful. She is amazing. She has a knack for working with kids with all different kinds of issues. She is a school psychologist. She cares about these kids. This is more than a martial arts class, it is therapy. I am convinced most of the children in these classes(Riley for sure) would never ever be able to take martial arts anywhere else. She’d be given the boot for being disruptive. She’d be treated punitively.

That being said, every time we announce it is time to get ready to go, there is a meltdown. This isn’t about being rushed. We start talking about going, at 11:00, and don’t have to be there ’til 1:00. It is a struggle, every week, to get Riley out the door. To get dressed. To get moving. She is melting before we even leave.

Martial arts is tough for her. She does not know the meaning of the word, “slack.” She cares too much, gives 100%, every moment. And it is exhausting. She does not understand you let a push-up or two go if your arms are ready to break. You might not hold the most perfect lowest stance, if your legs are tired. Every kick needn’t be full-throttle. She never gives herself an ounce, then compares herself to others who have taken these little bits of rest and thinks, “They are able to keep going, why is it so hard for me?” No amount of talking will convince her otherwise.

We put her in martial arts hoping it would help her gain body awareness,  to know where she is in space. She’s the kind of kid who gets out of the car, and backs up into oncoming traffic, oblivious to what’s going on around her. We wanted help with that.  We wanted to help her gain confidence. This isn’t a macho beat each other up school.

She’s safe from harm from the other students, but not from the thoughts going on in her own head.

She has gotten in good shape, and her muscle tone has improved.

She has made herself proud, many times.

But is it worth it?

Todd and I are battle weary. We just are.

And this class is expensive. Very expensive. Think out of pocket therapy expensive, rather than typical martial arts class expense. And Seth goes too, because it is easier to have him participate than to entertain him while we are there, and trust me, a parent has to stay and Todd works every other weekend so Seth has to come. It’s not like I can whisk him off to the park for some quality one on one time while Riley is in class.

Todd busts his tail for this family. He gladly works overtime every week.

Is it worth it?  

Am I hanging onto this because I love their teacher so much?

Yep. That’s a big part of it. This place is such a nurturing holistic, positive community. I know the teacher really loves our kids. That sense of community, a place where Riley is understood. It is so valuable.

And I don’t want Riley to feel like she’s failed.

Right now it is all about the belts for her. That’s all she cares about. Keeping up with others in her belt level. Individual progress means nothing. Personal gains don’t matter. The fear of falling behind the others in her class is her only motivation.  

I hate her God damned fear. I hate it. I’m sick of it. I wish it would leave her alone.

Wanna see the pathetic verse I wrote the other day? Get out the violins.

Striking Deals


I will gladly give my life

I will die today

if I can take her anxiety with me

and all can talk

and say what they want,

it must have been her mother

she’s fine now


It’s not how God works,

but I’d do it

In a heartbeat

I’d do it

So anyway, yeah. Todd and I have been mulling this over for a while.

They are at martial arts class right now. Getting Riley out the door to get there was once again, a nightmare. Why are we putting ourselves through this?

I think we’re done with Tae Kwon Do.

I’m sad.

The End.

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24 Responses to By the time I finish this post I will have decided to take the kids out of Tae Kwon Do

  1. Yes, there are fantastic benefits to all aspects of life from training in martial arts, and I’m in a position to know. What I also know is that those same benefits can come from different sources, or a package of different sources.

    Focus? Hell, many Japanese develop focus through making and serving TEA. Some people develop focus through computer programming, or music, or coloring with plain old crayons.

    Body awareness and connection? Yes, karate is fabulous for that. But there’s also horseback riding, dance, yoga.

    Fitness? Hiking, dance (again), distance running, jumping rope even (although that gets boring really quickly as far as I’m concerned) — lots of non-competitive things. I’m assuming things that need lots of balance, like skateboard and in-line skates, would be too challenging right now for Riley, but maybe those are options too.

    Challenge and physical courage? Horseback riding, maybe an indoor climbing gym (although that might not be where Riley is at — Margaret doesn’t have autism and it’s taken her to age 14 to be able to conquer her uneasiness with heights at the climbing gym), maybe sailing (I seem to recall Cleveland is on a honking big lake, so I’m certain there is some sort of learn-to-sail thing, maybe even a Sailability, although I don’t know if they work with kids with autism).

    No team sports in that list. Nothing competitive, or *necessarily* competitive. Nothing with time pressures. Nothing she even *has* to do in a group, so there’s no reason to get anxious about keeping up.

    Karate is wonderful.

    And it’s not everything.

    — Laura

  2. *m* says:

    It’s all about tradeoffs, isn’t it? So tough to make decisions like this.

    But when you think of not what you will be giving up, but what you will be gaining — more time, more peace, and yes, more money for other things — it’s a very wise decision, if you ask me.

    I always admire your ability to question and re-view and tweak, in an tireless quest to make the best choices possible for your family. I need to remind myself more often that happiness and success are moving targets.

  3. Niksmom says:

    If only it were as black and white, as easy, as we wish for. Trust yourself, trust your husband. Trust that Riley has been giving you a message about something even if she doesn’t know what the message is.

    As M said, think about what you will GAIN. I need to remember this same lesson of letting go; remember that I am creating space for something new and wonderful that I may not know yet but it can’t find me if there’s no space.

    Wishing you peace.

  4. L says:

    Hey Michelle,

    Have you tried functional homeopathy? T’s first layer was the liver and when we peeled that layer back, up came gallbladder and with it OCD and perfectionism. A few months of remedies has made a dramatic difference. Neurotransmitters have all been balanced and life is so much easier.
    I have tired traditional homeopathy with some improvement, but nothing like this.

  5. Meg says:

    I inadvertently got both of my girls way overscheduled this winter. Classes already paid for (expensive), equipment/attire already purchased (expensive)and the physical component of several of these commitments is really beneficial….but they are telling me in not so subtle ways that it’s just too much. So we are easing back and I am learning a lesson. It will be telling for you if Riley misses the class and longs to go back or if she is relieved next Saturday. I suspect that, as usual, your instinct about this is right.

  6. Heather says:

    We pick our battles. It is sad. If it were only that easy to win them all.

    Now, onto better things with the energy you will save from fighting this one every time.

    Much love,

  7. naomi says:

    Your verse makes me cry. Please accompany me with violins as well.
    I’m sorry that you have to make choices like this. Riley’s life is rich, full and balanced even without this wonderful teacher’s input.

    What would she do without her mother
    who takes the grenade of anxiety and coaxes it gently away from her heart?

  8. amber says:

    Again, I think you know what is best. Maybe you are also holding on because you want SO MUCH for it to be okay for her, but you know in your gut if this is the way. Right now. Maybe not forever. Just right now.



  9. Wanda says:

    Once again…I have no words of wisdom. I’m just here. Listening. No doubt you will all figure it out.

  10. drama mama says:

    1. Mama knows best.

    2. When in doubt, refer to #1.

    P.S. We made a similar decision a short time ago, and have not looked back.

    You won’t either.

    You’ll just find something else that works.

  11. -e- says:

    For completely different reasons, my day can also be summed up with your words-
    We are done.
    I am sad.
    The end.

    Thank you writing it so succinctly.

  12. GoMama says:

    Sending you love.

  13. Amanda says:

    Well maybe the class has just run it’s course and it’s time to find a new adventure? What’s the thingy you talked about before? Oh yes, source, what if you’re supposed to be doing something else to get lined up again? I probably have this all wrong but I’ve never known you get a biggy wrong before.

    Love and happy thoughts 🙂

  14. Jerri says:

    Your reasoning is sound. Your intentions are strong. Love leads the way.

    We can’t go wrong when these things are true, Michelle.

    They are true for you.

  15. Carrie Link says:

    “She’s safe from harm from the other students, but not from the thoughts going on in her own head.”

    There you go.

    Like Drama said, Mama knows best.

    I’m all for shedding these days!

  16. graceonline says:

    It’s probably the last thing you want to hear, but I am crying for you now. I have no wisdom, no resource, no way to help. I can only pray. So I do. I pray you and each member of your family receive everything you need right now, right then, whenever you need it. Please, help them. Give them each their own special angel to help them for as long as they need, for the rest of their lives. Bless them. Bless them tenderly and well. Give them a rest. Especially, please, give Michelle some rest. Heal them. Please.

  17. Lolly says:

    Your instincts are good and your intuition sound.

    Think how long it has taken for you to be able to master the skills to break this ball of junk apart?

    Riley is still in the morning of her life.

    With your help and guidance she will learn, in time, the skills and develop the wisdom she needs to recognize and embrace the melt downs, because they are her teachers.

    But wishing you could take her fears and anxiety away is a natural thing.

    I always feel satisfied that I’ve done my work when I can say “I feel sad.” Sadness is a clean and simple emotion, unlike regret and fear. Expresing it permits me to move forward.

  18. kario says:

    First, love.
    Second, I am so sad that this feels like an ending for you. I can only hope that, in its place, a wondrous opportunity will arise that will give Riley another way to build her self-awareness and strength and feel good to her. When Eve quit violin I was so sad, but I had to remind myself that it wasn’t necessarily forever. I still hold out hope that someday she will decide to pick it up again.

    For now, love. Yourself, mostly. You are doing a terrific job!

  19. Bonnie says:

    I’d go for maintaining the peace and lessening the anxiety.

  20. Robin says:

    My first thought is that any decision that you make is not forever. It just isn’t. Sure this is a wonderful teacher but you have to have faith that if you need another wonderful teacher in two or three or fifteen years the universe will provide one. A break of months or years might be just the ticket.

    Just to give you another thought – My son has played soccer since he was three. Some games, heck some years were painful, he would just stand in one place and chew on the strings of his shorts. Teams left us and went select. But some games were awesome to watch. And some teams had great kids and great coaches. He is now 14 and I am glad we left him in every year. When he made his first goal in indoor soccer this year it was breathtaking.

    Just some more to chew on.

  21. jess says:

    follow your heart. and hers. 🙂

  22. pixiemama says:

    Impossible decisions.


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