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October 26, 2008

When Accidents Happen To Children

2_2 My son, Adam, recently taught me a huge life lesson.

Recently he was up for his 2nd degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. In the weeks leading up to it there is a Prep Class. Master walks the candidates through what the test will look like and they get feedback on what still needs to be tweaked. Three weeks later (and 2 weeks before The Test) is a Pre-Test. It's fairly formal. You have to pass this test to go to the actual test and you once again get feedback.

Adam passed both with flying colors. He was set to go to 2nd Degree Black Belt testing.

The day came and we arrived at the studio. Adults were stretching and getting ready. Kids were mostly stretching and being silly. We reminded Adam to not goof off and get ready for the testing. We took our seats and testing started.

Adam was outstanding. Truly - he was nailing everything exactly. A water break was given and he came off the mat to us and burst into tears. We asked him what was wrong and he told us that he got hurt during stretching. He was doing a leg split/apart and you reach down with your hands to the ground. A partner gently pushes on your back. His partner lost his balance and landed on him. And he is a good size larger than Adam. This forced Adam to stretch down more than he should have. He pulled a muscle in his inner thigh. We encouraged him to get back out on the mat. He was halfway through and doing a great job. We told him to keep his kicks high on the good leg, but slightly lower on the injured leg. So he went back out. With one musical form, a 6-count and sparring left he thought he could make it. But as soon as the music began he began to cry.

"Come on Adam, step back in. You can do it. You're so close!" hubby and I said quietly - wishing our words of encouragement could travel across the floor. But he couldn't. Master signelled to hubby to approach the mat. Adam was done. His leg simply hurt too much to do the twists, kicks and stands required. We took him to the back of the mat where he sobbed and sobbed in my arms and I rubbed his leg. We watched as the rest of the candidates completed their testing.

The last part of testing is the candidates speech -"What Being a Black Belt Means To Me". Adam went back out, becuase although he didn't complete the testing, he still wanted to finish what he could.

In his speech he talked about that fact that anyone could wear a black belt, but that didn't make them a black belt. Being a black belt took years of practice, perserverance, confidence and leading by example in and out of the studio. It meant using your body and your mind to be flexible. It meant setting goals and achieving them, modifiying along  the way as necessary.

At the end of testing if everyone passes, Master presents a belt then and there, but he won't do that if everyone doesn't pass. He gave a speech thanking them and reminding them what happens today is not the end of a journey, whether they passed or not. The Black Belt panal called the candidates up 1 at a time to let them know if they passed.

Adams named was called and he approached Master. We knew he wouldn't be passing. He knew he wouldn't be passing. We braced ourselves for more tears. We braced ourselves for comments of unfairness that he got hurt at the last minute. We braced ourselves for helping him not take out his dissappointment on his friend. We braced ourselves for a meltdown when we got home. Afterall, he is only 10. He is still a child and still reacts as a child will.

And that is when my son taught me a huge life lesson. He returned to us and said, "Mom, Dad, I didn't pass, but I did outstanding while I could, my speech was outstanding, and my injury isn't permanent, so I'll be back in 6 months. Accidents happen."

And that was his last word on the subject. Not once a grumble. Not once anything remotely negative towards the child that lost his balance and fell on him. Nothing.

And he's right. Sometimes shit happens. And it's in those moments that truely defines everything we have been taught and how we are going to handle the situation and ourselves.

I am so very proud of Adam for the person he is becoming. Sometimes life's greatest lessons can be learned from our children.

This is an orginal DC Metro Moms post. When shuttling her son back and forth from Tae Kwon Do classes, Robin can be found blogging at MyLifeAsItIs.

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