So! The party, as I mentioned, was a complete success. A good time was had by all, as long as we’re not counting Monkey. Monkey had a good time unless he didn’t “get” what was being taught (40% of the time) or was “out” at a game being played (30% of the time) or he was remembering that in fact, he hasn’t even HAD his birthday party yet, and his birthday was ALL THE WAY BACK IN JANUARY MANY MOONS AGO (29% of the time).
But, if you were not Monkey, and you were hanging out at the Tae Kwon Do studio with us, you were having a blast. There is something charming and ridiculous and breathtaking about watching a roomful of girls learn how to kick and block and BE LOUD. Already, at 8, you can see that many of them are loathe to assert themselves. By the end of the class, we couldn’t shut them up. It was a thing of beauty.
You may wonder what actually happens at a Tae Kwon Do party, but WONDER NO MORE. I’m here to enlighten you.
First, the girls had a very basic warm-up and a bit of an introduction to Tae Kwon Do. From there they moved right on to talking about bullies and kidnappers. Just like every other birthday party. Then the Master had Chickadee help him demonstrate a beginning hold and how to free yourself. Except that the Master was teaching that part of the move is to YELL, you know, LOUDLY, “You’re not my dad!” or something similar as you break the grip, because part of what you’re trying to do is draw attention to the situation and attract help.
Chickadee was executing the physical part just fine–she’s done it before–but the pressure of performing in front of her class turned her into a whispering pansy. “You’re not my dad” she would mutter, while freeing herself. I felt my inner feminist cringe, and tried to resist the urge to be THAT PARENT, the one who gives the kid a hard time for not being STRONG! I may have chewed a hole through my lip. Or heckled her and said she was fighting like a girl. It’s hazy.
The girls paired off to practice their moves, and I watched as the room filled with an impenetrable fog of strawberry-scented estrogen. Strong self-defense shouts gave way to tittering and shrieking, and practiced moves were abandoned in favor of tickling. So if you’re looking for a girl to kidnap, I highly recommend one from Chickadee’s class, because none of them is going to remember how to get away… but just be aware that they can shatter glass with their giggles.
Next, it was on to games. Samurai Says! Stop and Go! Ninja Ninja Turtle! (That’s Duck Duck Goose, but it’s WAY MORE FUN that way, you know.) Some game that ought to be called The Master Has The Patience (Not To Mention The Abdominals) Of A Saint, which involves him laying in the center of the circle of girls and twirling a jump rope faster and faster for them to jump over. I’m not really sure what the point of it was, but judging by their shrieks of glee, the girls enjoyed it. Plus it made for some great flying-pigtail action shots.
After some games, it was time for my favorite part of the day. Board breaking! Everyone got to break a board. You may recall that it was board-breaking that started it all for Chickadee, nearly a year ago. There is no better way to hook a child on martial arts than to show her that she’s strong enough to break stuff and that it’s even encouraged. Even the most timid girls in the group were coaxed into splitting a board and taking it home to show off. We all whooped and hollered each time a board clattered to the ground, and I couldn’t have been more proud of every child there.
Of course, I may have had just a wee bit of favoritism for one particular child’s unique form. (Wax on, wax off!)
After they’d worked up a powerful hunger, it was time for pizza, and then (of course), CAKE. (Nothing says “Happy Birthday” like two people kicking each other in the face. Have a special day, honey. Be careful with your teeth!) The Master brought out his Samurai sword and he helped Chickadee cut the first slice with it.
I have to say, while I was watching this ritual, at the party, I was loving it. The kids were all so impressed, Chickadee was thrilled to be allowed to use the sword, and the Master is a fabulous teacher who is amazing with kids. Afterwards, though, when I was looking at my pictures, some of my warm fuzzy feelings sort of fell under the shadow of cynicism. I dunno; maybe I’m being dumb. Have a look at the cake cutting. Awesome, right? Cutting a cake! With a sword! Or, um, maybe I perhaps looked at that picture and in my mind’s eye a thought balloon appeared over the Master that said something like “Hey leetle girl, come here and let me wrap my arms around you while you hold on to my big sword!”
(Oh, right. Like I was the only one who thought that. Stop looking at me.)
ANYWAY. Other than the fact that none of the people at the party had faces, we had a great time. I just wish we’d been allowed to keep the sword. If I don’t mow the yard soon, I’ll need it to cut a path to the swingset.