When not at school, our children spend a lot of time playing together - a thing I am truly grateful for and which I encourage as much as I can. Often their games are imaginative or verbal games but often they involve plenty of running around, play fighting or other physical activity. Put it this way, they are rarely bored and don't need to be given things to do.
I have occasionally felt just a tad guilty to see other parents delivering their children to dancing classes, horse-riding lessons, football training sessions, language classes, music lessons....but then looked at my busy, cheerful, unbored children and thought they are fine as they are. We have always encouraged them to try lots of things - and they have - but I know from my own experience that pushing them to do something when they don't want to could turn them off completely.
When we were in England, we were very happy for them to take advantage of after-school activities. They all did enjoyed football, gardening, art or other multi-skills classes but never wanted to take anything any further. Even Ruy, who loves football and was keen to go on a Saturday morning to a training session, soon got bored when it was clear that there was more training than football. Mateo did a few months of Judo, but he showed no real interest and I had to drag him there in the end - so eventually, we stopped going there.
The only class I insisted they went to was a swimming class - which we went to until they were all competent swimmers but it was clear they were not interested in improving their style. They were glad they had learned because they really enjoyed swimming in the pool in La Flecha last summer but they are not competitive and just want to play in the water. They didn't enjoy the classes and were very happy to stop going. And because the aim was achieved, that was fine with me.
But I do have a nagging thought that perhaps they should get involved with a group. It would be good for their continued integration with Spanish children; good for them to start doing things outside the house; good to learn more independence; good to take responsibility for their actions and their own development.
So I was delighted when Romy came home last week with an invitation to a Karate exhibition at the sports centre on Saturday. Her friend Ismail had asked her to come and watch him and she was thrilled. On Saturday morning, Romy and I got up and walked down to the big sports centre here in Alcala and we were both very impressed by what we saw.
There must have been around 150 children of all ages, in their white Karate suits with different coloured belts. Those who weren't actually performing, on one of the three areas set out, were busy practicing with each other or going through their movements.
I was deeply impressed by the focus and concentration of all the children and the control and balance their little bodies displayed. Romy said she wanted to join a class and we both agreed that Ruy would love it too. So we hurried home again to tell the others to come down and watch and then we enrolled our two youngest onto the next term's course.
|Proper kicking performances!|
And the first lesson, yesterday, went down really well. They both came home pink and sweaty and spent the rest of the evening practicing their moves - together with grunts and shouts, which are apparently required - though fortunately not on each other! The classes are twice a week so quite some commitment.
I find myself hoping that they go beyond the novelty of the first few weeks, of learning some moves and pretending to be karate kids. I hope they start to learn the deeper philosophy behind the moves. It should stand them in good stead throughout their lives.
- Seek perfection of character
- Be faithful
- Put maximum effort into everything you do
- Respect others
- Refrain from violent behaviour