A big part of parenting is letting go. At least I think it is. I’ve never actually read a parenting book, so I’m kinda making this up as I go along. Last night we attended an open house for a nursery school we plan on sending our daughter to in the fall. It is in the basement of a church virtually across the street from our house. It is clean, cozy and well supplied. It couldn’t be more convenient. We talked to both teachers and we got a positive feeling not only from them but also from the Board members who were on hand. There was nothing not to like about the place.
Except that it represents one further step towards our daughter’s independence.
We brought her along, and she took to the place like the old fish did to water. She ran from station to station, trying out the multi-coloured sandboxes, playdough stations and plastic food centres. She loved the place. We couldn’t get her away from it when it was time to go. This is all good and positive, right? I mean, you want your kid to be happy and well-adjusted and social. You don’t want them hiding behind you and all clingy, except that a small part of me actually wouldn’t mind that at all.
There’s no away around it: although she’ll only be three in a couple of months, she’s growing up. I’m not a big fan of change, and yet having a child means you’re destined to deal with change on a constant basis for their entire childhood and let’s face it even their early adulthood. It’s the letting go that’s the tough part. When our daughter was first born and we were in the routine of getting up at all hours, making bottles, cleaning up spit-ups, and changing diapers, it seemed like we were in a bit of a loop that would never end. Then one morning, I realized that I didn’t need to make formula in the 4 oz bottles any more. Our daughter had moved up to the bigger 8 oz bottles. You have no idea how upset this made me. It’s a small thing, right? But to realize that she no longer needed these little bottles, the ones that I sterilized and filled meticulously on a daily basis for months. These little bottles and liners are now suddenly obsolete? Also, I know most parents can’t wait until their kids are out of diapers, but I think I’ll miss diapers.At least you know where you stand with diapers. I know, I’m weird. It will be another watershed moment. I had a similar feeling last night at this open house. For a crazy moment I entertained the thought of home schooling. “We could do this!” I thought. But I soon regained my senses. I guess I wear it on my sleeve a bit when it comes to these things. And in any case, our daughter will need to be toilet trained by September if she is to go to this nursery schoolIt was already a weird night, but then I had choir practice so we walked down to the other church in our neighbourhood. The one we actually attend. We live in a very churchy neighbourhood, apparently. A Tae Kwan Do group has been renting the upper hall for the last couple of years and they were all in mid-practice. Our daughter, already overly stimulated by the visit to her school couldn’t quite take in all these people in white robes punching and kicking each other. We tried to steer her away from the action but that proved fruitless.
Things got even weirder when we found out that the choir was supposed to go into the upper hall and watch a demonstration of the Tae Kwan Do students. Apparently they have an exhibition coming up and they wanted to practice in front of a real live audience and the choir was the obvious choice.
Before I knew it, we were all whisked into the upper hall and the demonstration was under way. Imagine about 30 people, all ages, both genders, all white-clad in robes facing you in a line. Then out of nowhere comes this 80’s style dance beat and they all start doing these choreographed moves. They start small: some kicks, some punches. How does one respond to a martial arts display? What’s the protocol here? Do you clap after every chop, or do you wait til the end? No one is clapping. I guess martial arts follows the symphony rules of etiquette rather than the jazz rules. But wait! Now they’re bringing out boards! Are they actually going to break boards, Bruce Lee style? Yes, they are. The first few moves were unimpressive. The board breaks were a little too clean. It was clear that they had been pre-cut and then glued back together. This drew out mild applause from the choir. You could tell they were doing this for the younger members and they were building to a climax. But then, the boards got thicker and they weren’t pre-cut. Dudes were kicking them to pieces with their feet and hacking at them with their bare hands, all to this crazy dance beat. The scenarios got more and more elaborate. There was two groups of people sitting at two tables, apparently enjoying a lovely meal. All of a sudden a menacing dude with a KNIFE appears (it was rubber) and before you know it guys are flying off the tables, plates are hitting the ground, hair is being pulled and the only protection is a woefully small mat on the ground. It was way to small to catch every fall and I know for a fact that upper hall floor has chipped a couple of the fanbase’s teeth at one point and sure enough one guy missed the mat completely and hit hard on his shoulders and head. Some of these guys were wearing helmets but ironically the guy who hit the floor had no protection at all. Another scenario was a real head scratcher. There was this guy on all fours facing away from us, and someone else had to karate chop his partner’s hand. I don’t know why that guy had to be on all fours like that. Another poor sap was facing the challenge alone. His partner called in sick so he pretty much had to beat himself up, really. He did a pretty good job of it too.
I remembered that my 3 year old daughter was sitting on my lap taking all of this in. We’re pretty careful at home to screen what’s on TV. I’m not even allowed to watch “The Walking Dead” if she’s at home, at yet here she was, witnessing dozens of senseless acts of violence being played out in front of her very eyes. At first she emitted a nervous giggle and covered her mouth. It is too adorable to describe it adequately with words. Later on she insisted on standing. She was too excited to stay on my lap. I was worried that she would forget herself and run out into the middle of the fray. It was too late to try to cover her eyes. It was just too late. It would have almost been better if it were a straight-up fighting match. The fact that the whole damn thing was choreographed to a cheesy dance beat and that they were pretending to beat each other up made is somehow a little more unseemly.
After about 15 minutes, the whole shambles came to a sudden halt and everyone lined up for final bows. Afterwards, my wife said that one of the participants looked a bit like how our daughter will probably look at age 13. Dear lord, I can barely stomach the idea of her heading off to nursery school a couple of mornings a week, and here we’re contemplating what it would be like watching her beat the shit out of someone as “Axle F” plays relentlessly over the speakers? I need to lie down.