Memo to myself: If I ever am about to leave for an extended period of time, nobody at the dojang must know. NOBODY.
Whenever somebody's going away, the black belts give them an extra-special goodbye class to remember them by. Today's actually got me almost hitting the wall, for the first time in over a year. We had running, then jumping over people doing 50 pushups, then doing 70 pushups while people jumped over me, rinse lather repeat, then kicking drills involving non-stop running at kickers for about fifteen minutes, then... omg I hurt. I went down to kneeling pushups during the 140 thing. And then, near the end of the class, Chris went down to kneeling pushups.
I'm pretty sure Sarah, the black belt who's going away, will remember this. For a long, long time. And probably fondly, now that I think about it. She's in the armed forces. Tough/masochist is in the job description ;)
Also, for the entire class, in between trying to not die, Chris and I thought about the boys, who weren't there because Monday night is usually for grownups and black stripe/black belt kids only.
There's this black stripe kid (that's the last colour belt before black belt, btw), Gordon. He was fifteen minutes late today - not a rare occurrence. The teacher, Mr. D, didn't bat an eye when he came in late; just told him to do one hundred skips, twenty pushups, twenty situps, five times. Standard warm-up routine, and much easier than what the rest of us had done.
Gordon did it. It took him the rest of the class, and the entire time he had a little smirky smile, as he slowly did his skips and leisurely pushups and situps while the rest of us sweated and I wondered if I should fake a coma next time a teacher announced this was anybody's last class.
Five minutes before the end, he told Mr. D he was done. Mr. D rather curtly said, "No, just keep skipping. In that corner."
That's all. Not a single reprimand, not a single suggestion that he, you know, finish his supposed-to-be-15 minute warmup so he could do taekwon-do. Just let him piss away the entire class.
Contrast this with a class the boys suffered through last week, where Mr. M spent a great deal of his time correcting them and berating them and getting their attention, the names "Daniel" and "Justin" and sometimes "Daniel and Justin!" called out about half the time he called anyone by name.
The boys were unhappy. They felt picked on. On the walk home, I pointed out that their behaviour had not been good (Daniel was spacey and Justin was goofy, which they acknowledged) but that wasn't the only reason Mr. M had been singling them out. I pointed out that they are now upper belts, and supposed to be an example to the other kids, which they know. And I also pointed out that part of why Mr. M was picking on them was that he knows they can do better. The teachers know our boys try hard (most of the time); they know that picking on them isn't a waste of time.
I pointed out that next time they were feeling hard done by, they should take a look at how the teachers deal with Gordon. He's always been a bit whiny and lazy, but it really seems like ever since he got his black stripe he's just decided this TKD thing isn't his bag after all, and he shows it. He's perpetually late, he does only the bare minimum, he goes to the washroom for about ten minutes almost every single class, and the other day he was even being disrespectful to the teacher. Which may be considered cool in school, especially by other kids, but is absolutely not accepted in TKD.
The teachers have gradually stopped getting on his case about all of the above. They just roll their eyes and ignore the behaviour. Which is, IMHO, pretty much the best thing they could be doing. TKD is not mandatory; if anybody doesn't want to do the work, there's no point in forcing them to. I do think they should talk to his parents about pulling him out, because the parents are wasting their money, but other than that there's no reason to pit their wills against his, and waste everybody's time.
So we talked to the boys about the class after we got home, and I think we'll bring it up a few more times this week. Talked about what they would rather have: Mssrs M and D harping at them, or ignoring them? Being able to smirk at a class full of people pushing themselves to exhaustion, or being part of the class, learning, and having a sense of accomplishment by the end of it?
Conclusion of tonight's talk: I love our boys :) :)
Also: we're testing for our red stripes this Friday. Normally it's about six more months from there to red belt, then six more to black stripe, then six more to black belt.