Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

November 5, 2017

Warrior child

Photo was taken last week


I was worried this afternoon.

In a gym with about 10 kids and two karate teachers, I listened as the sensei asked the kids to start the warm-up. First they had to do sprints, no biggy. Then they had to run sprints and touch the line, again no biggy, then he said I want you to run sprints and when you get to the line I want you to do 10 push ups... my gut twisted and I looked at Josh who was so focused that he didn't see my panicked look of concern. Lets just say Josh is not my 'co ordinated' kid; with a weaker right side and high muscle tone things like athletics don't come naturally to him. I quickly looked at my phone and tried to make it look like all was well but I was worried. Does he even know how to do a push-up? Does he have the arm strength to do this? I can see he's already winded from all the sprints, what if the warm-ups become the sticking point on what could be the perfect sport for him?

The kids lined up on the white line, they crouched and waited for the go signal. 20 eyes all set in one direction; I was only watching two of them and they were focused, clear, determined. I held my breath as the sensei yelled GO, and I watched as Josh sprinted past the younger kids, then past the tallest kid in the group, then as he slid to the first line I moved to the edge of my seat as quickly as he slid into the push-up position. One, then two, three, four... all ten perfect push-ups and before I could gasp for the breath I had been holding he was up and sprinting the next line to do it all again. I swear I was beaming, and my throat hurt from the lump that formed there. When he was done three sets he sprinted back to the start line; his smile said he knew what he'd done, and when he got to the line he looked at me with a shy "I'm too cool to want my Mom to show me how proud she is of me but I am still young enough to really care what she thinks" smile. I nodded at him and smiled in an"I'm proud of you but know that I can't jump up and run over there to give you a giant hug because you are nine and that would embarrass you' kind of way. It was a silent understanding that passed between us in that quick meeting of eyes, an acknowledgment that he has been aching for in every sport he tries. He wasn't last, he wasn't second to last, he was almost the first kid back to the line and he knew it.

As I sat on the sidelines watching him I saw the warrior child I have seen so many times in the hospital, or when facing something very serious or painful or scary. He had his "this means war" face on as he learned the punches and kicks and bows, where to place his feet, how to hold his arms, how to make a proper fist; and his attention to detail was noticed and commented on by his sensei who patted his back on the way out and then came over to chat with me about how great he was.

I was proud (to put it mildly). We have worked so hard, come so far together and while this was his success alone I have to admit I was just as anxious, just as out of breath, just as proud as he was. He has so longed to find a place to fit, a place to put his competitive side and not be crushed in defeat and today he rose to the occasion and he was shining.

For those of you who follow this blog (dwindling as it is because of my lack of writing lately) you will know that last spring this was something we were all praying for, a moment like this for him and I was very aware of all those prayers today when I sat on the sidelines watching God answer them.