Top 10 Reasons School Being Out Rocks

NYNY rideI don’t know whether to be nervous or excited. Sort of like the moment before your date arrives or just before the roller coaster drops 10,000 feet in 2 seconds.

But the boys are out of school!

And there are 10 GREAT things about that.

1) No more nagging The-Youngest to do his spelling or math or English or socials or science or, well, anything that doesn’t involve mini-hockey.

2) We get to use the pool one last year. With water restrictions, birds pooping in it all the time, and the cost of various and toxic chemicals, the pool’s gotta go.

3) More time to play Magic, build tanks, play FIFA or NHL 2015, throw the baseball, walk the dog in the park, win at Clue, or listen to The-Oldest become a classic pianist.

4) Another epic vacation. This year, Vegas/Grand Canyon, or as The-Youngest calls it, “the trip to the Hershey World.” Apparently, it’s HUGE. The candy store, not the Grand Canyon. (“Joe, did you know – it’s two stories?”)

grand cayon

5) More time to discuss the great philosophic ideas of all time. Like the meaning of evil. The nature of the greater good. And if Ant-man could beat Spiderman (who The-Oldest pronounces, Spooooderman for some reason that makes sense to a teenage mind).”

6) No freaking baseball, hockey, Tai Kwon Doh, parachuting, goalie camps, soccer, Tai Chi, Ballet or Jujitsu or Jedi Training. Just summer. No commitments. How cool is that?

7) No force-feeding The-Youngest so he can get to school on time. Or fast-washing The-Oldest’s gym strip so he doesn’t smell like the Rock’s armpit.

8) No racing out the door, then remembering The-Youngest forgot his lunch, binder, water bottle, magic cards or shoes.

9) monte pythonMovie time! So many movies to watch.

10) Two months chock full of opportunities for great experiences.  Good or bad, I’ll blog about them all.

But, as The-prettiest-girl-in-the-world often says, “it’s not our job to make sure the boys aren’t bored.”

So, true, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make 2016 a fantastic summer.

Adventures In Parenting – Let’s Get Ready To Rrrrrrrumble!

Let’s Get Ready to Rrrrrrumble!!

The boys’ first lesson in Jujitsu was about to begin.

giWould it be a complete disaster, the type that gets a billion hits on youtube? Or would they find it fun, would they learn something, would they become elite MMA bad-asses?

They looked nervous in their t-shirts and shorts as they stood waiting to go onto the mat. The other boys were dressed in proper gis.  The instructor was dressed in a gi. However, I think they were less concerned with how they were dressed than with the idea that they were about to get their arms ripped off. I had exactly the opposite concern.

[wpvideo 1VmrDj6e] Then it was time to start. I’d hoped this would be good exercise for them. Maybe teach them more discipline, maybe some respect for authority (ok, respect for MY authority) and maybe some life-long skills to survive in a harsh world.

They were 2 of 4 kids. They marched onto the mat then looked back at me like they were unsure that this all wasn’t some big Joe-joke being played on them.

They all began with exercises. First up, what looked like a crab walk, then the instructor changed to something called shrimping, which made me think of how long it’s been since I’d eaten shrimp. Shrimping looks basically how it sounds. They lie on their side and shuffle up, then curl up, then shuffle from the other side, then repeat. The youngest took it as a challenge to beat all the other kids. His technique looked more like… well, you know when you put a glob on water on a hot pan, how it hops around… yup, that was him.

The oldest, however, watched and listened to the instructor’s directions and did his absolute best to repeat the movements. When corrected, he adjusted his body as needed. When the youngest was corrected, he gave the instructor a look, (a look I’d seen on his grandad’s face several times), that basically said why are you bothering me, I’m doing everything perfectly and should, in fact, be teaching this class myself.

Then it was on to other exercises where the instructor both encouraged and pushed the boys. Sure they were new, but they had to finish. Sure they weren’t as fast, but he required they try hard. No harder. Come on, you’re nearly done, finish it up. There you go!

The instructor was fantastic. He just had that fun, outgoing energy that I’m sure gets him laid a lot. He was patient and supportive and always down on the mats with the kids, showing them how it was done. He made them laugh, and he made them sweat.

Much to my surprise, the oldest rocked at the exercises. The youngest, giggling, sprawling around trying to figure out how make his young body move, was less successful. But he didn’t care. To him it was a race and he usually won.

Then, when it came to actually learning the moves, again it was the oldest who seemed to grasp it all very quickly. Oh, he wasn’t perfect, but he was limber enough to do all the holds and because he listened and because he watched with fierce intensity, he was able to duplicate the complicated moves.

There was no way I could have done as well. Not even close. I have a hard time lifting my legs to put on a footrest. The ability to wrap them around another human being and vice-grip that lock is about as far beyond me as trigonometry is for my dog.

[wpvideo hEYoQeS9]But color me stunned. The oldest is the guy who hates sports. Or at least says he does. Me thinks he might just hates group sports where he would let the team down if he dropped the ball or didn’t understand what to do.

For the youngest, it was a good gigglefest. He didn’t like that he had to be serious. He’s 7. Being serious is a long way off for him. Maybe 40 years. But he did enjoy the dodgeball, he loved trying to beat his brother at shrimping and when he learned that the next session, they’d work on choke holds, he was ten tons of excited.

But as I watched the oldest do so well, it occurred to me that maybe no one’s every explained something like soccer to him on a really basic level. In martial arts, they break it down. Move here. Hold this, Twist that. Stop poking your brother in the eye with your elbow. It’s methodical. It’s scripted. A-B-C-D.

More importantly, though, than being good at it, he actually seemed to like doing it!

I can’t tell you how proud I was. Not that he could do things easily, (he remains a far, far, far better singer than I’ll ever be – honestly, a pitch-prefect singer), but that he was having fun by pushing his boundaries. He had to touch other people, grab them, shift them about. He had to listen, to learn, to replicate what he’d seen. And he did it better than I could have ever imagined.

Could it be he’d found his niche?

Only time will tell.

At the end, a little red-faced, he still stood against the wall with his brother and enjoyed a good game of dodgeball, giggling, flailing out of the way of the ball. On the mat, he’d had the intensity of an adult. Dodging the ball, he was a kid, again. What an amazingly awkward time of life. That shift from being a kid to being a teenager/adult.

The next week, we signed them both up for more classes, bought them both Gis, and their first belt, a pristine white one.

Another journey for them had begun, each taking a different route.

But things would get harder and harder for them.

Would this martial art be for them?






Adventures in Parenting – Them’s Fighting Words

Them’s Fighting Words

IMG_0090With no vacations or hockey schools or lumber work- camps available to us, we had to choose something different for the boys to do. Maybe even chose something where they learned a thing or two. After all, playing Terraria every waking hour of their existence might be fun, but did it allow them to expand their experiences?

Ah, no.

But what we could get them to do?

Ballet? Swimming? Sky diving?

In the end, we decided on something less dangerous – we signed the boys up for jiu-jitsu, something I still can’t spell right without a spellchecker. Brazilian jiu-jitsu to be exact.

BJJNow BJJ’s basically a martial art that relies on holds, submissions and takedowns. Way, way back in the day (yes, I say that now) jiu-jitsu ruled the MMA world. A wee little guy name Hoyce Gracie took down bigger men, stronger men, meaner men. How? By quietly working their limbs into a position that would make even a seasoned professional wrestler wince. Or by choking them out.

So, we thought, that’s the ticket. Something like wrestling.

But what did the boys think when we told them?

The youngest was super excited until he found out he couldn’t actually punch people in the face. That’s another discipline. He was even more concerned when he found out he couldn’t kick anyone either.

The oldest simply shrugged, but much to our surprise, didn’t offer any real resistance. I think we caught him while he was a bit sleepy.

So the search began for a good gym. It had to be close to us. It had to have a good teacher. And it had to have a spirit of fun and learning. There were some bigger gyms out there, some with good reputations, but in the end, we chose a smaller one. Mostly so the boys wouldn’t be stuck in a class of 20 kids who knew a ton more than they did.

Infinity MMA was our choice.

They offered, as most gyms do, the first few weeks for free. And I love free. So we took the boys there, dressed in shorts and t-shirts. Covering the floor were blue mats were ringed with red mats. The walls had mirrors. In the corner was a dummy the youngest begged to punch. It smelled like most gyms do, that kind of sweaty funk that I swear seeps into the very walls. Both boys looked nervous. Like I was taking them to be shot. Or have shots.

We came early so the boys could also take a look at kickboxing. Now there was a sport the youngest could love. The other kids were kicking and punching each other like crazy, but when the youngest saw that they ended every session with a dodgeball game, he was sold. Apparently they played that after the BJJ, too. He could forgo fisticuffs, if he could play dodgeball at the end. So BJJ was ok.

The oldest, however, watched everything with great intensity. How they moved. What instructions were being given. If anyone was being yelled at.

The instructor was a young man. Oh god, I said young man. Early 20’s. Tall. Lean. Smiled a lot. He radiated youthful enthusiasm. The other kids seemed to respect him and, more importantly perhaps, listen to him.

I liked the guy. I thought he’d be good for the boys.

IMG_4106The kickboxing class ended and it was the boys’ turn.

Now we would find out if they liked it or not.