Karate Kid / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 4 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.”

Tonight is solely an exercise in getting to 500 words. I put my son to bed at 8 and when I reiki’d him, and I think I accidentally got some on myself because I just woke up. This is becoming an occupational hazard, but at least tonight I had the presence of mind to have washed my face and brushed my teeth first.

Every once in a while when I put him to bed, one of the methods he employs to delay the process is to suddenly exclaim, “Let’s meditate!” Before waiting for an answer from me, he sits up, crosses his legs in applesauce-pose, performs a sloppy mudra with his hands, and then squeezes his eyes closed. It gets me every time. By the time I think we are finished, his eyes are already open, which means he has no game when it comes to meditation.

This morning we got up at 8 for Jonah’s first karate lesson. The classes are held at 9 in a My Gym in an industrial part of Atwater. The sensei is a really tall African American man, supported by a gently awkward white guy with a green belt. The black man is stern with his instruction, but smiles easily during the water break. He is fluid and precise in the way he moves about the room, while his assistant is sort of, well, white. They are an odd, faintly endearing pair.

The class is an hour; doesn't that seem long for a 3 year old? Jonah isn’t the best at following directions and I almost can’t watch him not follow directions through the window so I volunteer to go get us coffee in the meantime. I’ll just run over to Proof, I told Ryan, which is not a thing on a Sunday morning. It is a tiny bakery/coffee shop with horrible line management and I sometimes want to offer to help them figure out a more efficient system, but sit down, Vanessa.

Between when I left and when I returned, my little Ralph Macchio had blossomed. One of our friends whose son is also in the class remarked how much of a natural Jonah is. I wanted to ask him to quantify that, because I am skeptical of participation trophies, but decided to just accept the compliment.

Ryan is that dad filming the whole thing on his iphone and excitedly effusing when Jonah so much as stands wide. I, on the other hand, have a little more tiger in me. I hide behind other parents because I don’t want him to feel judged. He caught my eye at one point and ran over to the window with a half quiver that almost asked, “Hold me.” I smiled encouragingly through the glass and turned away so that he felt the freedom to focus.

My parents didn’t even care if I went to college; my start was slow. I turned out okay, eventually, but had to teach myself discipline in my twenties. I want Jonah to have it better than me in so many ways, and I hope when he is older and in therapy, he knows that my intentions were pure.

We broke our sugar fast this morning. I had a hot cocoa waiting for him after class. As we cheers’ed our paper cups I told him I was so proud of him. The extent of which my sweet little pea will never know.  

Tiny buddha. 

Tiny buddha. 

Second row on the left. I can't even.

Second row on the left. I can't even.