It appears that karate will be a thing of the past for Eli. Sadly, we only lasted about two and a half months : (. I wondered when we started if we would want to stick with it...and I am definitely correct using the word 'we' instead of 'he'. I always thought that if my child started an activity, that I would make him stay in it for a lot longer....and I was wrong.
Karate - at least at the place he was taking karate - is NOT for us right now. Quite frankly, I'm glad he gave it shot, because for the first six weeks or so, he really enjoyed it and looked forward to karate class. I think he did learn some great things from his instructors, he got to see what the classes were like, and we had a great time at his tournament. I'm actually kinda sad to leave the program just three weeks before he would have 'graduated' to his 'halfway' belt (half white/half yellow).
There were many downsides, though. For one, after he received his next belt, there were few - if any - new techniques for him to learn until he had advanced five or six more times. Another is that sparring was required for yellow belts and higher...something I don't really want my four year old doing...even if it is only light contact. I didn't realize this when we originally signed up with the studio. Then there were financial considerations, including the matter of the belt testing fees for every advancement...which I was okay with until the instructor basically told me he passed everyone on the same time schedule as long as their parents paid the fees. Paying for the next belt instead of earning it didn't sit well with me at all...and neither did testing every child every three months and advancing them regardless of how much each child actually improved.
I was willing to stick it out for a little while longer, though...until I realized that karate was not what Eli really wanted to do anymore. When we first started, he wanted to do karate because his best buddy was in the class, and because Eli thought he was going to learn to be a "real" ninja turtle. As time has gone on, he's realized that this isn't at all what he expected, and he's disappointed. In addition, even though the instructors are great, the kids actually don't do a lot of physical activity in class - they do a lot of standing, watching, and listening - definitely not what Eli needs at this stage of his life.
I'm actually not entirely sure when Eli's interest in the class began to crumble. One day, he was upset about an incident at school and told me he really didn't want to go to karate....and a couple hours later started cheering when he realized that he'd missed the class. I thought this was weird, but chalked it up to a bad day. Through the next 2 or 3 classes, it became apparent that Eli now believed that karate was his playtime with his buddy, Luke. He did everything he could to get Luke's attention; breaking in front of Luke when they lined up, trying to chase Luke, hollering comments at Luke, calling Luke's name repeatedly, etc. The crazy part of it all is that while he was doing his best to interact with his buddy, Eli was still able to follow every instruction that the instructors gave...he never missed a beat. Because he was doing what the instructor said, Eli didn't understand why trying to communicate with his buddy wasn't okay during class...and he didn't understand why Luke was trying so hard to ignore him. After his last class, I found myself telling my 4 year old child that karate class was 'not his playtime,' and I immediately felt terrible for saying it. I actually apologized to Eli later for fussing at him; after all, he was not actually doing anything wrong.
We had some family discussions that night; the result of which was the decision to withdraw from the karate class. I felt like it was too much pressure for Eli to have to learn how to 'not play' in a class at his age...particularly a class that he's no longer interested in. Eli surprised me by not being sad at all about leaving karate.
Another decision that came out of our family discussion was to let Eli try some swimming lessons instead. He's always loved the water and has been begging to swim since his school's pool closed at the end of summer last year. There are some things we're doing differently this time, though. First, Eli wants to swim because he already loves to do it...and he's not worried about becoming a fictional character or horsing around with his friends. We also decided to go ahead and try private lessons, knowing
that he would have an easier, more enjoyable time in a one-on-one setting. We also only signed up for 6 lessons...a very short time to stick to, but long enough to find out whether he wants to continue or not. In the same discussion, Eli reminded us that he's also wanted violin lessons. We are currently considering a series of 9 individual lessons over the summer - again, just to see if he's interested enough to continue. I'm sure we'll have some new decisions to make this fall, when swimming is done for the year, but in the meantime, I'm glad that the karate chapter is behind us.