Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tonight we watched Z get his brown belt in tae kwon do. It had been over a year since he had tested to move up in rank so a few weeks ago I had checked in with his main instructor to see if he was eligible for the next testing. The instructor and I went over Z's attendance and he determined that he hadn't made it to enough classes this cycle so he was not in fact eligible. It was true that Z's attendance hadn't been great over the summer because we were often doing other things with our Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings so I thanked the instructor and figured we'd try for next time.

Since Z wasn't eligible for testing I didn't worry about him practicing the current routines. The classes in the weeks leading up to testing are dedicated to the test so I didn't worry about getting Z to those classes. A few days before the test it worked out that getting to class wasn't a huge pain so I brought Z to the class. Az had no patience for sitting through the hour long class so I followed her as she ran around outside. I was able to watch Z through the large plate glass windows and I noticed that it seemed people were clapping for him a couple of times. At the end of class I decided to check in with the owner of the school, whom had taught that day's class. She said that she recommended Z for testing. I brought up the fact that Z had poor attendance the past couple months but she brushed it aside, saying that he had banked enough classes in the year since the last promotion and seemed to know the form well enough to test.

 Z hadn't been practicing and I hadn't allocated any extra money towards paying for the testing since I'd been told weeks before that he wouldn't be participating but I decided to make it work. I know it's not the best reason, but I was largely motivated by the fact that Z was being passed by and left behind by kids in his class. I didn't want him to get ostracized or teased for not moving up.

I did make it work, but Z really wasn't ready for the test. He didn't know the form because we had made very little effort to memorize it. He followed along with one of the instructors and copied his moves when he got stuck. There was only one other student to get such preferential treatment, a man with very obvious disabilities. Miguel pointed out that a lot of parents were aloof towards Z both during and after testing. He was particularly upset by a certain woman and her daughter giving Z dirty looks after testing. I hadn't even noticed because I've gotten used to looks directed at Z. Z is not as obviously disabled. I wonder what the other parents and students think of the fact that Z gets to follow an instructor while they have to memorize everything.

The instructors acted like Z did a great job but I feel like they sell him short on what he can accomplish. Z might always need a little more help than most of the other kids, but he's a very smart kid. He could do most of the form and all of the sparring easily if he put his mind to it. I think next time I won't agree to have him test unless I feel like he's ready. I want him to know that it takes practice and hard work to accomplish certain goals. After this is just the red belt and then comes the black belt, the ultimate in accomplishments. He needs to start showing that he wants that belt.

I invited my mom and aunt D to the promotion because I knew it would mean a lot to Z to have both of them there, Luckily despite the late notice both were able to make it, and came along with us after promotion to get pizza next door. Az was thrilled with the turn of events because it meant she had two of the older women she adored the most and pizza. It might be a couple of years until we go to another of Z's tae kwon do promotions so I'm glad both of the kids were able to live it up this time.

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