Our son is the second child, always smiling from the word go and yet, quieter, more observant and now I realise, storing it all up for secret ammunition. Luckily, he had his older sister to speak up for him but as he grew, I made a conscious effort to listen to him and what he eventually had to say. If she went off to play with a friend for the day, he would sit on the doorstep, waiting patiently for her to return until he too, began to venture off with his own friends. I am blessed that they still get on well today.
He decided he would play football and we would faithfully attend the practices and then drive miles, often in pouring rain, only to both stand on the sidelines hoping that the coach would eventually look over and wave him on for 10 minutes of play.
Then it was Karate. He went along with a friend who was already many belts above him but my boy didn’t seem to mind, lost in the precise moves and focused mindset. The first bout he took part in was terrifying for me. My quiet boy, happy to let others push forward, was moving into an arena of possible hurt and grim aggression.
Grandpa was visiting at the time so he came along too and we took our seats as each boy was called forward to battle against another and score points. Around the sides of the arena, were eagle-eyed judges looking for infringements but also Karate Kid-inspired moves of brilliance. I only remember the one bout: the one against his much bigger and far more experienced friend.
This lad was relying on his size and kept pushing forward- the objective being to push your opponent out of the ring. But I suddenly saw my boy lift his head, square his shoulders and switch on all the drills he had been practising. He scored point after point on landed thrusts and calculated blocks whilst his friend blundered away. He would aim a blow and dart back into position whilst the other lad stopped, confused. The bout would halt, my boy would gain a point for body contact and off they would go again.
He won that bout, much to the delight of the other, smaller boys and his friend learnt a lesson that day: remember your technique and don’t underestimate your opposition.
Currently my boy is taking holiday in order to support a cause he feels very strongly about and is attending demonstrations over the next few days in London. Whatever your thoughts on the inconvenience of this are, I am only glad that there are some people giving their time to send an important message to the “Big Pushers”. That people are prepared to stand up, regardless of the consequences for something they believe in.
My boy, now a successful young Scientist, told me recently, don’t let anyone intimidate you. And at over six feet, he is certainly “standing tall”.