This weekend, my closing-in-on 14-year old son tested for his International First Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. He was a bit under the weather, but testing does not wait for germs, so off he went to be tested in curriculum, Korean terminology, many physical tests, and, after passing those, the graduation day gauntlet of forms, sparring, and board breaking.
As I watched him, I tried to reconcile this young man, who is now taller than I am, with the little kid I’d dragged to his first Tae Kwon Do class over three years ago (maybe close to four years now?). He got out of class, got in my car and said, “Take me back!” Since that day, I’ve seen his dedication and enthusiasm spur him ahead, watched him perform impressive physical skills with the demo team, and most of all I’ve enjoyed the relationships he’d developed with his teachers and classmates. I was among those classmates, until my foot decided that I was done for the time being. Seeing him grow through knowing and respecting the older students brought me a lot of joy. Watching him as he developed into a leader among the younger kids made me smile.
At the black belt testing, the graduates were given the opportunity to honor the one person who had supported them the most on their journey. In front of all the students, teachers, and spectators, my son told me that I was always right. When I suggested he do something and he didn’t do it, he regretted it after. When I suggested he do something and he did it, he was glad he did.
He had every intention of making me cry and, as in so many other things he has set out to do, he accomplished his task. My son, I am so proud of you, and so grateful to be your mother.