Simon, 5, loves this little boy. His family is a little bit too Conspicuous Consumption for me, but how can you deny a five-year-old his best friend? Which is why I’m spending an afternoon at his 500$ birthday party at the karate studio.
I discover while mingling with The Mothers over the (very elaborate) food that all the other kids at the party take lessons at the studio. I wonder if it is further evidence of my inept motherhood that I wouldn’t consider spending 90$ per month (plus tests . . . uniforms . . .) for karate lessons for a prekindergartener.
The (um . . . what do you call him?) is gathering all the children to sit on the floor. He breaks some boards. Simon is enthralled. He then invites each child up for a turn. Simon is near the back of the crowd; I know he’ll be one of the last kids up there. Of the twenty or so kids, only two or three are able to break the board. The ones who do it, do it on the first try. If they don’t, the guy orders them to try again. But they’ve had a taste of failure and a little pain, and so they don’t hit nearly as hard on the second or third or fourth try. The guy is relentless: “Try again! Harder!” It is difficult to watch (this is a birthday party) but even harder to anticipate what will happen when Simon gets up there. He is, after all, the only one who has never tried this before. All of my Mother Alarms are sounding. Maybe I could take him to the bathroom and he could miss his turn? Maybe we have to leave right now? But we haven’t had cake yet. There appears to be no escape.
I am angry at this guy for humiliating all of these children who are supposed to be enjoying a party. I am infuriated watching him order them to do again what hurt the first time and what they’ve now lost confidence to do. You know after the first wince that they won’t ever break the board, they’ll just try feebly until the mean guy finally dismisses them. I hate this.
Simon’s turn. My back is rigid and my jaw is set. HIYA! Two halves clatter to the floor.
I’m not sure how someone with grey hair acquires the foolish confidence of a five-year-old, but I imagine it would be a good thing.