The Karate Kid

Flea and I have started a new family tradition of eating out on a Friday evening.

I think eating out is really important for kids, and we've always gone to proper restaurants rather than family-friendly chain places. I want Flea to know how to behave in a restaurant – to sit at a table, eat with cutlery, order from a menu, talk to a waiter.

And Friday has become a really special time for us, too – it's an hour or two every week when we can just chat, and I find in a relaxed environment where I'm focused completely on her, Flea really opens up about school and other stuff I don't usually get to hear about.

This week, we went to our local Indian restaurant, which is Flea’s current favourite – she’s a big fan of poppadoms and “nana bread”. We were eating at around 5.30pm, so the restaurant was quiet but there were three older couples having meals while we were there.

It has to be said, old people tend to like Flea. She’s blonde and cute and wears a natty school blazer. She talks a lot, and has impeccable manners. Seriously. She complained at school today because a character in a book said, "I want to go" when Flea reckoned they should have said, "Please may I". So there were lots of fond smiles and glances in our direction.

Flea, being Flea, did me proud.

I was explaining to Flea that as she's asked to do karate instead of football club, I've signed her up for a taster class on Monday with a local kids' karate club. She was pretty excited, and asked lots of questions about exactly what would happen when we went to the class. 

“Mummy, when you do karate, do you wear a karate suit?” she asked.

“Well, if you like it, then yes, we’d buy you a special white suit to wear.”

“And you don’t wear your shoes and socks, do you?”

“No, because there’s kicking in karate, and you wouldn’t want to hurt someone.”

She thought for a moment. “Is karate like fighting?”

I had an answer ALL planned out for this question, which would convey to my child that karate is a sport and that it might involve fighting but you must never use those fighting skills at school, or anywhere outside of karate club. So I was feeling pretty good about myself. Which never ends well, let's face it.

“Well," I said, "Karate is a special sort of game that is like fighting, but there’s a very important rule you need to know when you do karate. Do you know what it is?”

“Oh yes, Mummy, I know,” Flea said, with absolute confidence.

“What is it?” I asked.

And in her extra loud, designed to be heard by frail pensioners using hearing aids voice, my angelic daughter said: “You’ve got to just use your hands and feet, and not head-butt people because you might hurt them and the blood will go everywhere and make their karate outfit filthy.”


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