He did it! This week, the kids had their belt rank tests, which their teachers kindly squeezed into a regular class because we are leaving and will miss the regular end of the year test. Kenny and Joshie were not up to test this time around, as both are now working toward their black belt test. Josh needs just a bit more time to pull it together, and Kenny will probably take a lot longer because of the memory involved in being able to do all the patterns. Angela and Olesya tested though, Angela for a black stripe on her red belt, putting her one step away from black belt as well now, and Olesya for her red belt. But for Matthew, it was the biggie...it was black belt night! Six years of working toward a goal, and finally it was here.
And it was sort of anti-climactic...haha!
Usually there are some pretty impressive black belt tests, and it is a lot of fun to watch. This was a very low key test, and in some ways I think it was good that Matt didn't end up at the end of the year test with several others who are testing for black belt rank. You see, because of Matthew's back issues, he is not allowed to do many of the more impressive high powered jump kicks. His teacher has been so kind in allowing Matthew to continue to participate and modify things for him, so that he will not further injure his back, but can feel fully part of the experience and do all that he actually can do. Matt knows his patterns well, and has led the class several times to show leadership skills. But if he were to test with the others, he would definitely have looked "less than", simply because he is medically limited and can not do what the others can do. This way, there was no comparing him to the other black belts, and he didn't have to feel awkward about it. Matt also is not one who cares much about being in the spotlight, so this better suited his nature anyway.
We were so grateful to his teacher, who has helped to instill discipline in all the kids, and who has looked at each individual child before him and seen where they are succeeding...even if they do not compare to others in the class. For example, with Kenny, he understands Kenny will not perform patterns perfectly and will need 2-3 chances to hopefully get it on a test. He always notices when Kenny has remembered well, and compliments him, which further encourages him. We've also been grateful through the years when their teacher has offered much reduced rates so we could afford to keep the kids all in class. Without that, we never could have managed it.
Here's Matt leading the class.
Receiving the coveted Black Belt...good job!
Angela, not to be outdone, receiving her red stripe!
I love how Matt is smiling as he sees his sister succeed, too.
Olesya...take no prisoners!!
Mr. Lee and Joshie have a special relationship,
and Mr. Lee is always teasing about Joshie still
being shorter than he is! Not for long, I think :-)
I did say "special relationship", not necessarily "good relationship"!
I just loved this shot, it is a strong reminder that there are so many
people whose time spent with our kids has been incredibly
meaningful, and is helping them grow and become very special, unique
young people. Without the Mr. Lee's and so many others, our family simply
would not be the same.
Mr. Dooley, the second half of the teaching team, is a most
kind and generous man. He has been a positive influence
in the lives of hundreds of kids in our small town for
many, many years.
I didn't manage to capture any good shots of Kenny this time around, it seems there is always one of them who I struggle to get on any given day. We are hoping that their teachers will return for one more year, so the rest of the kids can earn their black belts as well. They are wanting to retire, but they feel a sense of obligation to finish off their students if they can. We'll see what happens in the fall, but we are keeping our fingers crossed!
So, one black belt on the waist...four more to go! Super proud of Matthew and his hard work.
Dominick took them to the store to get him a pint of his own ice cream to celebrate, something we have never done for any of the kids (Lame, I know...but it was a treat to him!). The sweetest part? I came home from a meeting later that night, and Matt giggles and leads me to the freezer. He opens it up and sneaks out his pint of ice cream, Moose Tracks.
And then he says, "Mom, I picked this one so you and I could share it. Grab a spoon!"
Lucky, lucky Mom...in so many ways. Safer mom too, now that I am always accompanied by a black belt and four red belts! HAHA!