Our son recently began Karate lessons through the city. We thought he'd love it, but after his initial excitement about the idea he began to get leary. It was sudden and we weren't getting the whole story, but as soon as I told him he was signed up he began to protest and begged that I don't take him.
After some coaxing, we began to get to the "root causes" of his fear about taking Karate lessons. It helped when we told him that daddy took Karate for 4 weeks and that Batman knew Karate, but his fears were really eased after two particular conversations where he was able to get his little boy fears out.
#1 - Collateral Damage
As we were riding in the car on our way home from school I excitedly told L I had finally signed him up for lessons, something we'd talked about for a while. Instead of excitement I got the mini-tantrum, which eventually led to this:
L: But Mommy, I don't want to hurt anyone!
I actually think he was worried about getting hurt himself, but he has a sensitive soul so I can see him being worried about hurting someone too. I assured him that they were going to teach him how to do Karate but also how to use it responsibly so that he wouldn't hurt anyone unless it was in an emergency. We've talked about emergencies a lot and even have an "emergency scream" that we practice just in case, like if a stranger tried to grab him.
#2 - Skin Changes
Another day altogether we were walking down the street, just to go for a walk as a family. We hadn't been talking about Karate at all and were having a rather pleasant conversation until out of nowhere:
L: Mommy, when I start Karate is my skin going to turn dark?
Thankfully I'm quick, because that threw me through a huge loop. And he was REALLY worried about it. I mean, almost shaking kind of nervous.
Mie: No Logie, God gave you the skin color you were born with and that is the skin color you are going to keep. Is that why you don't want to start Karate?
With fear and processing he nodded his head.
Then it hit mie. The only experience my son has with Karate is from the movie The Karate Kid from 2010. he has not seen any of the originals but has seen the new one several times.
He thought he'd get hurt like the boy in the movie.
He thought he'd turn dark skin like the boy in the movie.
He thought his teacher would be Chinese, like both teachers in the movie.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnd....now it all makes sense.
I thought about sitting down and watching the original movies with him, but I think they were too grown-up for him at his age. I know I was terrified about the skeleton costumes when I was a kid (come on...not the only one right?).
I took the opportunity to talk about how people who do Karate have lots of different skin colors and each person looks different. I pointed out that daddy did Karate and his skin didn't turn dark. I pointed out that Uncle Mike and Uncle Bob did Karate too and Uncle Mike is asian and has darker skin but Uncle Bob has lighter skin and isn't Asian - karate students and teachers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and "colors".
We also took the opportunity to talk about how God makes people differently and that He does so on purpose, knowing who he wants each person to be so that if He created Logan with light skin then he wanted Logan to be just the way he is and if he created Uncle Mike with darker skin then he wanted Uncle Mike to have darker skin and that both of them were precious, special, and just the way God wanted them to look. I told him I didn't know who would be teaching his class and what that person would look like, but I assured him that the skin color didn't matter and mommy or daddy would be there to make sure the teacher wasn't mean to him and wouldn't be able to hurt him.
What a conversation. I'm glad my son feels comfortable bringing things up to discuss with us and that we are able to have those teachable moments, because I would have never assumed THAT was on his mind.
I love the brains of little kiddos - especially my Logie.