Life skills

Earlier this summer, I scoured the web, and community centre book for activities that the Little Bird could do since we decided to take them out of swimming lessons for a break. I was looking for something that would keep their attention, something fun but that wasn’t just a summer camp.

I don’t need a summer camp, as my lovely sister-in-law so graciously agreed to watch the Little Bird for three days a week. I needed another activity.

Trying to nail something down with her went a little something like this:


Me: Little Bird, do you want to play soccer?

Little Bird: No

Me: How about dance?

LB: No

Me: Ballet?

LB: No

Me: Want to try gymnastics again?

LB: No thank you.

Me: How about karate?

LB: No

Me: Great! Karate it is!


I researched a couple of karate schools in my area as I needed to hedge my bets and give her some time to warm up to the idea. So I settled on the school that gave me one free class and then a 3-class trial for $19. They also happened to be running a summer special for 2 months, for a very reasonable price.

I talked it up to her, although she continued to tell me that she wasn’t going to go, she wasn’t going to like it, and she didn’t want to try.

So I pulled the parent card and took her anyway!

And miracle of miracle happened. She enjoyed her first class and couldn’t wait to go back! During the second class she was a little shy, but she warmed up and seemed to have fun. By the middle of the third class, I knew I chose the right activity; she was smiling and laughing and most importantly – doing the activities!


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You see, when the Little Bird was three, we signed her up for gymnastics at the local community centre. She has been to a friend’s birthday party at a gymnastics place and loved it. She participated in the first half of the first class and then planted her feet on the ground, crossed her arms and didn’t move for the remainder of that class. No amount of coaxing from students or teachers would get her to move.

During the second class, she did the same thing. Didn’t move, from the minute it started. They had me come into class, leave the viewing area, talk to her, ignore her…it made no difference. She wasn’t having any of it.

By the middle of the third class, I had to take her out and beg the community centre coordinator for my money back, which they don’t normally do. But she had only really taken part of a half of a class, so he made a one-time exception and credited my account.

Since then, we’ve only stuck to swimming.

Until now.

Until I discovered the positive effects of karate; concentration, discipline and respect.  The classes have this amazing influence on her confidence, teaching her important life skills disguised as fun. I think it helps that we can go to as many classes during the week as we’d like, so if she’s having a rough day and I know there is a class that evening, we’ll get her uniform on and off we go. She has walked into the room, head down and arms crossed, (as we’ve seen before, it’s hard to break her out of that funk), however the teachers had a way of cracking a smile on her face in under 10 minutes.

That alone is worth the price of admission!

I’ve seen other kids act out and they are politely asked to step to the side, as to not disrupt the other students, until they are ready to return. Inevitably, they always come back and are more respectful. Luckily she doesn’t do that, she just usually checks out, or downright refuses to participate, however she is slowly coming around.

And ever since they presented her with her white belt, she seems eager to learn more. Excited to earn her stripes, like her classmates have on their belts, and ready to move up the rungs in colour.


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She admitted to me the other day that although she knows the student creed, (and had to recite it in order to receive her white belt) she has stopped saying it. I know she knows I can see she doesn’t recite it at the start of each class, and she shrugs and puts her head down. But she told me that she doesn’t say it because she doesn’t remember all of it anymore. And I told her that if she started staying the parts that she knows each time she goes to class, she would eventually remember all of it. So, she said she would try.

And that’s all I can ask for.

Our two month summer special is quickly coming to an end, but I think we’ll take the next 6 months to see where she can go. My gut tells me that she will only get better!


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