How about a black belt for following directives?

03/28/2010 12:00 PM

11/17/2010 4:18 PM

I'm sitting at a tae kwon do class watching my two boys practice. And it occurs to me that they do not remotely resemble the children who live with me at home. They're standing straight, following directions, and no one's even paying them to do it.

I don't get it. How is it that every time we come in here, the kids suddenly possess courtesy and discipline worthy of a colored belt? And why so excited about the belt? They won't even wear a belt.

There's something to be learned here. If this instructor can get all these kids to act like this, surely I can do it, too. I just need to recreate this whole experience at home, that's all.

So let's see - first thing they do here is take their shoes off and leave them at the door. I like this already. They walk into the room, step onto the mat, and salute the flag. So I guess at home, I'll have them walk into the living room, step onto the rug, and they can just salute me for that matter. Or give me a kiss.

I do like the uniform idea. Their white shirts and pants with the cool dragon on the back surely play into the whole unity and conformation thing. My uniform for them, however, would have to breathable, maybe something in a track suit. And in a very dark color to hide dirt, grime and evidence of what they really ate in the lunchroom, versus what I packed for them.

OK, so then they kneel and recite the five tenets of tae kwon do - courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. I'd keep courtesy and integrity, those are good. Then I'd add preparedness and readiness, because we can never get out of here on time. And I'd tweak indomitable spirit to read abdominal spirit - you know, eating broccoli with a little enthusiasm.

Then they line up. Check. They're told to say "yes ma'am" after every directive. This is good. But then they're issued a series of commands, and here's where we'll differ a little. The instructor's commands are a series of kicking and punching, where my commands will be a series of homework-doing and TV remote-finding.

Finally, they receive gold stars. I can do that. And if earned, the next belt color. My track suits won't accommodate a belt, but I'm happy to issue colored shoe laces, provided they can tie them themselves.

One more salute to the flag. I'll take that kiss now. Then they put their shoes back on, and out the door they go until next week. Perfect. Oh, wait. Probably can't implement that one. I'll just make that kiss a goodnight kiss and call it a day. And be glad I didn't have to write a check. And that we found the remote.

This'll work. High - YA!

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