Sunday, June 12, 2011

Caught on Tape

My little boy is becoming something of a verbal tape recorder these days, playing back each interesting word or phrase that catches his fancy. He's gotten pretty good and can let off these little adult phrases with all the intonations in the right places.

Sometimes, as you can imagine, this behavior can be very cute and appropriate, like the other day when I thanked the barista at our local coffee shop and my little guy said, "Thanks! Have a good one!" Or even cuter when he'll bring a phrase back from memory at some randomly appropriate moment, like when the other night I expressed some frustration about the lack of ice cream in the freezer he said, "Not today, Sorry!"

At other times though, the use of his internal tape recorder can be a little too revealing.

About a month back, we were preparing for a party. We were expecting family and friends and my son and I were out in the car running errands. This being a small city, the driving can be somewhat challenging. When we came to one of the tougher four way stop sign intersections on our traveling circuit, some hurried gentleman in a ragtop Audi made a pretty good attempt at a rolling stop that wasn't going to stop.

I stopped flat and steered away to avoid an impact. I caught the driver's eye, waggling my finger at him and let out a choice phrase (as I thought) under my breath.

I was very angry at the time, but forgot about the whole thing after a few more turns and a couple of stops on our errand route. It wasn't until we were back home later that morning that I realized I'd made a mistake.

We'd come in the door and found my wife's Mom and her brother had arrived. They were helping to set up.

I set my son down and he began to play with his toys. I went into the kitchen but hadn't been there long before my wife called me back.

"What's he saying?" she asked me.

My son had set up his stuffed animals on the couch. He was standing stock upright with an extended arm and was waggling his finger straight at a purple bear: "Stay right there jack-*ss!"

"Um," I said shuffling a bit and feeling sheepish, "Not sure where he picked that up."

Guess I need to be more careful.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roll the Wrists

I've started teaching my five year old some of the basics of collegiate wrestling - no throws or turns or locks mind you - just some basic things about balance and escaping. As I've known them, school yards are generally places where more pushing and grabbing happens than actual hitting, so I'm hoping to enable her to fend off some of the natural aggressors.

I was much older myself when I learned to do this, but I found that just being able to fend someone off makes enough of an impression; bullies turn elsewhere when they see you are going to be work.

"Let me try it again Dad," she says each night now - I never expected how much she'd like the training.

I started with something I was taught when I took wresting in high school. There was graduate of our school who'd come back from his college program on occasions to practice and assist teaching us.

"Simplest trick there is," he told me one day, "When someone grabs one or both of your hands, just roll your wrists over and take their initiate away."

"If you're fast enough," he added, "Sometimes you can surprise them enough to pull them off balance."

So we've been taking turns at a quickest draw in the west contest each night to see who can free their hands more rapidly from a sudden attack.

"Got you again," she laughs when she slips out of another parry, "I'm faster than you."

I regret when we're doing this, the necessity of teaching any self defense. But it's sitting right at the end of her nightly exercises.
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Self Defense
I wish I didn't feel the need to enable her. I wish even more that I didn't feel the need to train her so that we can work together some day to help train her little brother. But I know too well what a play ground can feel like when you don't know anything about self defense. It can be a lonely place.

I'm hoping if I can keep the training fun and defense minded (no hitting - just escaping for now), it will boost her confidence and make her world more manageable. I hope that by teaching her to keep her hands free, it will make sure that they're free to do the math and the reading and the writing.