Well, this is new.

It’s actually even cuter than this.

Addie J started tae kwon do about a month ago. Not because she was particularly interested in doing anything except watching Youtube videos about Minecraft, but mainly because we continue to insist that she participate in some kind of physical activity. This has resulted in many different versions of the same scene: Addie J, tooling around in the general vicinity of a volleyball net. Or with a tennis racquet. Or (most famously) all over the equipment at gymnastics– doing this thing where she’s having a great time without actually engaging in learning the sport. You’d have to see her do it to understand– but any sport or activity for the J has always ended in Dave and me pulling her and saying, “She had a great time, but she doesn’t care.” Addie is very, very happy and easygoing. This makes her such a ray of sunshine. It also means that, while she will happily attend whatever activity, if she doesn’t care about it there is simply no way to force it. I assumed tae kwon do would be more of the same.

Last night, she had her very first belt testing. Since I have no experience in martial arts, I have to constantly ask her instructors (instructors? Trainers? Masters? –Remind me to ask them what they’re called) really obvious questions such as, “How do I tie the knot in this belt?” and, “Wait– if she’s only been doing this a short while, should she be testing at all?” (I asked that question, thinking about how she would cheerfully shrug off any attempts to learn cartwheels, just running around and bouncing off all the foam surfaces in the gym. Addie’s short-lived gymnastics experience remains one of the most frustrating parenting moments for both Dave and me– not because she wasn’t suited to it. It was the depths to which she didn’t care.) But okay: if you think she would succeed at testing, we’re happy to give it a shot.

We all watched the J as they called her forward with her beginner’s group, and walked them all through a series of forms– what my sister Jill calls “synchronized swimming on land.” She was earnest and engaged. When she was off on her form, they called out a correction and she made it instantly. When they announced her name and her new rank, the whole place whooped and applauded for her and my heart grew three sizes. Afterward, we were getting ready to leave and Addie said she wanted to go ask a question. To my utter shock, she asked her instructor if she could compete yet. He said, “Sure, there’s a tournament nearby in a couple of weeks. Anyone who wants to compete, there’s a sign-up sheet on the wall.” And then he explained to me how it works, and what she would need to do. I was literally opening my mouth to say, “Well, actually that weekend is filled with Irish dance stuff, so we’ll probably not participate this time–” when I saw my little one– the one who doesn’t care about competition and who tends to require much prompting to commit to any activity– signing her name on the sheet on the wall.

I said, “……Okay. I guess we’re in.”


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