Well, THAT was an exciting weekend. Sometimes my life is just so darned thrilling, I can barely believe it.
I dunno… the whole Leap Year thing, it feels like we should mark the day, somehow. We’re always saying “I just need a few more hours in the day!” and then we get an entire extra day, and what do we do? Well, I don’t know what YOU do, obviously, but I spend it just like any other day, and then I feel like I’ve wasted my opportunity to catch up. Now I have to wait four more years to blow it the next time. Sheesh.
Actually, we didn’t spend Leap Day COMPLETELY like any other day. One might say we maximized it in that special way that only extreme tedium can. Because Chickadee had belt testing on Friday night! Thereby teaching the ancient Korean art of being bored out of one’s skull!
This is the part where I’m supposed to say I’m kidding, but alas, I am not.
Look, I love Tae Kwon Do. I do. I think it’s a great sport, and I’m thrilled that Chickadee has stuck with it for all these years and seems to enjoy it. Any practice which integrates respect and control as key elements right alongside strength and power is fine by me. I take the kid to the studio several times a week and I don’t complain. It’s all good.
Back at the studio we used to attend, belt testing was done during class time. When the teachers had deemed you ready to advance, you’d be tested during class, and at the end you’d receive your new belt. No problem. The other kids in the class would either be testing as well, or if not, they’d sit and watch and maybe assist if another body was needed during sparring or whatever.
At this studio, testing is A Major Event. I’m surprised that they don’t rent out the Coliseum, honestly. Instead, they use the gym at the elementary school—which is about half as large as the space they need—and everyone from white belts to black packs in for the extravaganza.
And an extravaganza it is, my friends. THREE FREAKING HOURS of extravaganza.
In order to honor those who’ve attained higher levels, I guess, they start with the highest belt testing and work their way down. Which means that the little tiny kids—who are in preschool and for whom Tae Kwon Do is just an excuse to punch the air and yell without getting into trouble—have to sit there for close to two hours before it’s even their turn.
With all due respect to the ancient Korean masters of the form, I think that’s ridiculous.
My daughter is now a purple belt, which puts her slightly above the middle of the continuum. You’d think that’s good news, because by the NEXT testing she’ll probably be up there in the first hour, but you would be WRONG, because they call up each level for form testing and oral recitation, then they move on to the next group, and so on, and only AFTER each and every group has done THAT, do they then do sparring (again, by belt level) and finally, when your younger child has tired of the constant litany of “I’m bored. I’m tired. I’m hungry. When is it going to be over? I can’t SEEEEEEEEEE! When is she going to be up? Can I go say hi to my friend? Why not? Why is it taking so long? What time is it? How much longer?” and has slumped limp and twitching into your lap like a sack of sticky eels, only THEN do they move on to breaking boards!
Guess how many boards my child has broken at the two belt testings she’s had here in Georgia? That’s right! ABSOLUTELY NONE! Possibly because they generally reach the board breaking section of the program about an hour after her bedtime and roughly forty-five minutes after EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE HAS DIED.
I’m no fan of this “gather the herd” method of testing, but I understand that a lot of schools like to do it this way. Fine. I see the merit in having the younger students witness the older ones and the older students assist with the younger, absolutely. But why it’s necessary to do this on a Friday night completely escapes me. Everyone is tired and cranky and wanting to be anywhere other than packed into a gym filled with fidgety children and sweaty sparring gear.
I would be much happier if they did it on Saturday morning. Or Sunday afternoon. Or how about never? Never would be good for me, too.
And do you suppose that my darling daughter was pleased and excited to have passed at the end of the night? That having earned her purple belt—which means she will be going for red at the next testing—would be satisfying for her?
Oh, don’t be SILLY.
She was glum. Dare I say, hang-dog, even.
“What’s the matter, honey?”
“I didn’t break my board. I never break my board! And for red belt on up if you don’t break your board, you don’t pass. I’m going to be a purple belt FOREVER!”
If she doesn’t pass, that’s more belt testings we have to attend.
I had to resist the urge to tell her that if she doesn’t break the board next time, I will come up and break it for her. Possibly over the instructor’s head.
Instead, we took the kids out for ice cream. Because what’s an extra half hour and a big scoop of sugar once you’re already up way too late and worrying about what’s going to happen months from now? Root beer floats all around! Let’s toast to not having to do this again for several months!