What were you doing in 1998? My four sons were 6, 5, 4 and 2, and and I had realized that they needed a physical outlet that I could not provide. So they started training in ATA martial arts.
Son Number 3 was the quiet, wallflower kind of kid, who always had his blankey and his thumb. He was a cuddler, and loved to encase his bunk bed with hundreds of Chubs Wipes containers…do you remember those? The ones that looked like enormous legos? They are collectors items. You can get them on ebay these days.The rest of the boys and I would be happily doing boy things, and then we would notice that Noel was missing, and that’s when the manhunt would begin. “Go find Noel, boys!” and they would scatter in our small little house and find him encased in a fortress made of Chubs wipes boxes and blankets, quietly building his sixteenth lego creation of the day.
You can understand, then, how nervous I was when I put him into martial arts. I don’t know if it was the hormones from my last pregnancy with my fourth son, or just that I was that emotional and nervous for him, (probably both) but I frequently would be at Master Patti Barnum’s ATA school which was in Burr Ridge at the time, and cry, as I watched my little son in Tiger class. My other sons had been older, and bigger when they started. This one was just FOUR YEARS OLD for Pete’s sake. And so little and cute. Nonetheless, my heart’s desire was to teach my sons to be like what the good fairy said to Pinocchio.
“To become a real boy, you must prove yourself brave, truthful and unselfish.”
Many years later, in college, as a barista, my introverted son told me that although he doesn’t particularly like to deal with lots of crowds, he has learned how to be flexible and serve people. The style we train in is called Songahm, which means pine tree and rock, and this is my son. Strong, brave, flexible, loyal, solid, creative, with deep roots of faith and service. He gives the credit to the taekwondo training he had, since it pushed him to come out of his comfort zone, perform in front of others, and build those character traits of leaders. My quiet, introverted son achieved his third degree black belt, graduated college with a degree in music, performs on stage, and is a percussion teacher for special needs. He might be soft spoken, but he beats a big marimba!
Parents! Look for your kids strengths, and grow those gifts! And never give up. Keep listening, and pointing them toward their dreams, not your own. Their personalities might never change, but you can help them have confidence, self esteem, flexibility of character and the resilience to bounce back from the fears and disappointments in life. Doesn’t every parent want that for their kid?
Here’s to quiet, shy kids! Parents of these children need to dig deep to help their kids stay safe, and know who they are in the world. If you know someone who has a shy kid in their house, forward this blog post to them! We need all the hope and inspiration we can get.