Friday, March 18, 2011


It's probably some special little law of thermodynamics or something that events happen or items appear in groups--pairs at least--like cataracts of traffic on an otherwise empty highway.  Yesterday, there was such mash-up. My son had had a rough day.  He's still in recovery mode after a nasty spat of colds at home (I'm still trying to get over mine), and more simply, earlier he'd woken up on that proverbial, and despicable, wrong side of the bed.  We all know what that's like.  And who could blame him when he objected to going to school, where, as if in confirmation of his dread, he got hurt and came home later that afternoon with a band-aid on his arm?  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I take Jacob to his karate class right after he gets off the bus.  Generally, he really enjoys it, but yesterday, just after getting dressed, while pushing shut the folding doors of his closet, he got his finger pinched between the panels and cut himself again--a nasty little slice, this time on his finger.  More, he's just recently graduated--been promoted--into the Juniors Class (up from Little Ninjas, where he was, by far, the  top dog), in which he competes with kids 6-12 years old.  He's tall for six, but he is still just six!  Most of the class is a lot bigger.  The curriculum is a lot harder.  Some of the kids are really good.  Really good.  Jacob is naturally competitive.  (Well, mostly he just really likes to win and hates to lose.  I guess this and "competitive" are not exactly the same thing.)

Anyway, he and another recent Little Ninja grad teamed up for some sparring.  Together they won five bucks-a-piece "karate kash" for performing best in the class.  Great, right?  Usually when Jacob wins even just a buck he comes running over to me (hastily bowing "respectively" at the edge of the mat) and proudly waves the bill in my face. I then get to use it as a bookmark until we get back home where I put it with the rest of his small cache in the kitchen cabinet.  Well, yesterday, he didn't bring me the kash.  And it makes sense, other kids don't go running around in this class, dashing over to mommy or daddy for this, that, or whatever; the discipline for the juniors is several notches up from LN, and you gotta be tough.  As nails.

Soon after the successful sparring, which, as I said, he didn't personally celebrate, was a game of "Sensei Says."  This is the second time Jacob's played the game with his new class.  The first time, he went out in the first round, and he was fine with it.  He was still a little awed and intimidated.  Yesterday, still essentially brand new and totally green, he beat out more than half the kids in the class, lasting several dozen commands (no mean feat), and when he got out he sat, slowly, almost delicately, and for about thirty seconds was strong.  Then he broke.  The day had been too much (and I didn't even know about all of it yet!), and right there, in the middle of super cool karate class for big kids, Jacob started, silently but quakingly, to sob.  I stood anxiously, and one of the assistant teachers brought him to me.  (The teachers are truly wonderful in this school.)

It took about ten minutes for him to calm down.  I held him on my lap and tried to talk to him, but he wasn't in the mood.  Of course, this was a classic, great "father" moment.  I couldn't "let" him not go back out on the floor to finish class.  I had to teach him that, you know, when you fall you've got to get back up!  Well, wonderfully, with prodding from me and another fantastic teacher, he did, and I was really proud.

In the car on the ride home he was very quiet.  I asked him what was bothering him.  I thought I knew what it was, but I wanted him to talk it out.  I don't want him to be like his old man who buries everything where it--whatever "it" is--can fester and rot and try, tempt, and even destroy my emotional immune system.  But he remained quiet.  I was torn, of course.  I wanted to respect his privacy, too, but, again, he's only six!  I want too to know what's really going on in there, at least just to make sure that something, well, bad isn't going on.  Finally, just before pulling into our driveway, he said, and with heat, "Some kids at school made fun of my picture today!"  Jacob, and rightfully so, prides himself on his ability to draw superheroes.  Today was Spiderman, but apparently these kids thought his drawing looked stupid because the oval of the hero's head was sideways, instead of "up-side up," the way it should be and the way Jacob meant to do it, but didn't.  He hadn't said anything about this when he came home from school--just the cut on his arm.  I watched him in the rear view mirror and could see again the sobs working his larynx and into his shoulders.  Amazingly, once home and inside, cookie in hand and "Clifford" on the tube, he on the love seat, his sister on the couch, he was as happy as could be, and the rest of the evening was peaceful.

For him.

I'd just gotten my rejection letter from BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School, my first and most-hoped for.  Most, if not all, of you know this, of course.  And it's kind of a big deal!  We'd really like to stay in Utah, rather than uproot this little family for the sixth time in three years.  Of course, The University of Utah is still undecided about me, and, really, whatever happens will happen.  But that rejection....  It smarts, and not just because now I'm not going to BYU.  I've been accepted to other schools, after all--good schools (not as good, but you know...) --I've gotten my five bucks karate kash, but Jacob's right.  Sometimes it's really hard to go back out on the mats and finish class.

He did it.  Maybe I just need a cookie and my favorite TV show.


  1. Unfortunately the worlds sucks and is a poor judge of talent. All you and Jacob can do is continue to work and prove them wrong the next time.

    I hope that it doesn't keep either of you down too long. Lots of love and prayers.

  2. i can tell a lot of heart and soul went into this post. hang in there, just a little bit longer, joe. lots of love and prayers from me, too. something will work out and when it does, you'll see, we'll all see, that it was worth all the pain and anguish and waiting.

    i know a bit about getting back up and it feels harder every time and sometimes it doesn't even feel worth it but like james said, all you and jacob--and the rest of us--can do is continue to work and prove them, everyone, wrong!

  3. Thanks, Katie. It turns out time takes away a bit of the sting, but I can't say that I'm necessarily cheering for "Jimmer" right now. :)