Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why Noah Is Taking Karate

At Noah's annual physical when he turned 5, his pediatrician recommended that we enroll him in some sort of class that involves "large-motor activity" so Noah would have a better sense of where he is (physically) in the world around him. Basically, to improve muscle coordination and the like.

No surprise there, as I certainly was never that talented in the area of hand-eye coordination, at least where small objects flying at high speeds towards my body were concerned.

So, we weighed our options. For true large-motor skills, there were such activities as soccer, t-ball, swimming, gymnastics, dance...

The plus side for soccer: team-building and a lot of physical activity. Running is good. And I have no objections to being a soccer mom. Problem was, all the pre-K soccer classes were during the day on weekdays.

T-ball seemed less useful -- not quite as much activity, generally (lots of standing in the field and waiting for small objects to come flying at you at high speeds). But practice would include "catch" as well as an effort to hit the small object while it's not flying at you at high speeds. Well, it was a possibility.

As for swimming, we had already signed up Noah for a summer camp that would involve daily pool activities (at a minimum, increasing his water comfort, since he's still a little skittish about putting his face in the water). Given that particular discomfort, I figured it might be awhile before he got a lot of large-motor coordination skills from such a class.

Gymnastics or dance might have been good, and I was about to look into those options when Adam suggested, "What about karate?"

Indeed, what about karate? There's a good school just down the hill from us in Sharpsburg, we talked to a few of the parents and they seemed pleased with the teacher, the classes were small and the timing was right (and the price, too). But there were other positives, as Adam pointed out.

First, he would learn to listen. Karate is all about order and self-discipline.

Second, he would be active and (as our doctor suggested) achieve some mastery of coordination.

But third and perhaps most important (this remains to be seen) he'd also learn self defense.

Why is this third factor so important, you may ask? He's five. Why does he need to learn how to defend himself?

Ah, but that came as no surprise to me, when Adam mentioned it.

The fact is, Adam and I are both nerds. We know it. We've been that way since we were little. And Noah is no different. He's lovable, sweet, witty, charming, artistic, and... nerdy. He can't help it. He comes by it rightly. So, as self-aware parents, the least we could do is to help him protect himself from the torments and tortures he is bound to endure as he gets older.

Admittedly, arming him psychologically would also be useful, and we are trying to do that, too, but sometimes (sorry Grandma Rebecca) psychology isn't quite enough. War, as they say, is the continuation of diplomacy by other means.

So why this posting? Now we come to a conversation in the car today, on the way home from the zoo, which merely served to confirm in our minds that karate will one day be of great help to Noah.

The subject of the conversation was insects, particularly cicadas, which we could hear because it was nearing twilight and our windows were down (it was a lovely evening).

Noah asked us what cicadas were, why they are so noisy, and so forth. We explained about their odd 17-year cycle (at least for some cicadas). "What do they do?" asked Noah. "Well, mostly they eat and then breed and die," Adam said.

Then came the kicker.

"So," asked Noah, "are they symbiotic or parasitic?"

Whether this question, coming as it was from the mouth of a five year old, fazed Adam, I don't know. I was laughing too hard (albeit as silently as possible) to notice. Adam did in fact reply to Noah and explained (patiently and in depth, as Adam is wont to do) that primarily cicadas are parasitic but they also serve a useful purpose, that nature is quite self-regulating and generally finds its balance, unless other creatures (mostly humans) interfere with that balance.

My parting shot for Noah, as he was getting ready for bed: Are humans symbiotic or parasitic?

Yeah, I'm sure that will come back to haunt me someday.


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