January 13, 2005

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Remember how I said the other day that my five year old was the most "girly" of the three Llama-ettes? Well, when I got home last evening, she came bounding up to me and announced that she wanted to take tai-kwan-do lessons. (They're going to be offered free at our racquet club.)

So much for that theory.

As a matter of fact, I think it's a pretty good idea. Sheila had a long piece about teaching children self-defense the other day that kinda weirded me out. While the not-talking-to-strangers lesson is critical, I'd feel a bit more comfortable if the girl also knew more ways to fight it out if, even minding all her P's and Q's, she found herself in a bad situation.

UPDATE: Last sentence edited for greater clarity. And read Sheila's comments. Good 'uns, all.

Posted by Robert at January 13, 2005 12:02 PM

Weirded you out? Why?

The little boy in my town (a very small town, by the way, people don't lock their doors kind of town) disappeared, literally without a trace, right under his mother's nose. He was murdered. In the most brutal way imaginable. But his remains were not found until I was a teenager. Which meant his parents lived in that state of unknowing for 8 or 9 years. I knew his parents. They kept setting a place for him at the table.

Terrible things happen, and little kids need to be scared, paranoid, and know what to do.

I am grateful that those cops came to our school following and scared the living daylights out of us, and taught us the importance of:

1. Biting
2. Screaming "THIS IS NOT MY MOM" if you're being dragged away - and screaming so immediately
3. Knowing that adults should not ask kids for help (ie: "can you help me find my cat?")
4. The elbow is the hardest part of the human body. USE IT. Don't try to throw a punch if you're 5 years old - but an elbow-whack can hurt an adult.


Self-defense is important for everyone to know - but kids definitely.

Posted by: red at January 13, 2005 12:09 PM

Oh and if by "mixing it up" you mean when it's okay to talk to strangers - read the long comment from Lisa in that post.

She said she taught her boys that SOMETIMES it is good to talk to strangers (like police officers, or employees at department stores) ... you can't have them NEVER want to ask for help.

Lisa has some really good tips about how she taught her kids what kind of strangers are probably the LEAST dangerous.

Posted by: red at January 13, 2005 12:12 PM

Sheila -

The world is full of dangers and awfulness that could befall my kids at any minute. That's an idea that floats around in the back of my brain in a general way all the time. What got me about your post was the way it took this idea and put a specific human face on it. I couldn't help thinking about my own girls while reading it. (The same thing happened last year when that commuter plane crashed in Charlotte. I read a transcript of the cockpit voice recorder on which could be heard the sound of a small child calling "Daddy!") Stories like this resonate right down inside a parent's soul in a very deep, dark and panicky spot, the one that says "What would you do if that were your child?" That was the weird, horrifying part. Frankly, one simply cannot think like this constantly or one would go mad.

In fact, I thought your post was an excellent reminder of sensible steps to be taken to decrease at least one kind of danger in the world.

Posted by: Robert the LB at January 13, 2005 12:25 PM

Also, ahem:

It's the "girlie" girls who need this stuff the most. Because they'll be most concerned with "not" being girlie. And that could put them at risk. Girlie-girls need to know when it's okay to become a bad-ass and fight back.

Lecture over. :)

Posted by: red at January 13, 2005 12:27 PM

N.B. - By "mixing it up" I meant "fighting like hell" if she ever had to, certainly not talking to strangers.

Posted by: Robert the LB at January 13, 2005 12:27 PM

Oh, and although the need for extra protection for "girly" girls is a point well taken, you're preaching to the choir. Buh-LIEVE me, I've already lost a good bit of sleep fretting about that one.

Posted by: Robert the LB at January 13, 2005 12:37 PM

Robert, I understand. But I wasn't sure, because of how you worded the post, so I wanted to drive the point home, just in case.

Don't mean to lecture. :)

Posted by: red at January 13, 2005 12:40 PM

Donald Sensing's comment on this is really good too (someone put it in the comments to that post of mine):

"It is not only okay to be rude to strangers who make you feel suspicious. It is required."

Posted by: red at January 13, 2005 12:42 PM

Oh, and about the whole "talking to strangers" thing - Unfortunately, it pretty much IS taught that it is NEVER okay to talk to strangers.

Which is not good, because then this deprives kids from making snap critical judgments (which they SHOULD be able to do.)

Police officers, other mothers with kids, women in uniforms ... all of these are people who, statistically speaking, (and of course, there will be exceptions, but you can't spend too much time making yourself nuts about the 1% freak exceptions...) should be "safe" and not sex offenders.

It is okay to talk to THOSE strangers. But in general, most of the literature for kids (I've seen some of the stuff from my friends kids) says 'NEVER talk to strangers'.

I think this is a grave mistake.

Posted by: red at January 13, 2005 12:45 PM

Oh, and as a single woman, navigating my way through a dangerous city ... I STILL use the lessons I learned as a wee girlie-girl tot.

I am NEVER completely relaxed. I am ALWAYS aware of where I am, where the Exit signs are, etc. If I'm on a subway platform, I ALWAYS position myself close to crowds, as opposed to down at the ends of the platform, where there will be less people. Crowds are safe. I am also NOT afraid of offending someone if they give me a weird vibe. I may be wrong about the bad vibe, but I do not care. My safety is more important in that moment.

For example: This has happened to me a couple of times: The elevator door opens. I have a long ride up to the office, wherever. There's one guy in the elevator. And ... I don't know ... I just get a bad vibe. I don't get a bad vibe often, but when I do? It's like it screams DANGER in my ear. Now that is a tough situation ... you don't want to be rude - but if I get that little hairs-rising-on-the-back-of-the-neck warning ... and I COULD be wrong, but I will not take the chance. Fine. I'll hurt his feelings. Too bad. I'll take the next elevator where there are more people in it.

DO NOT set yourself up to be a good little victim. Attackers are LOOKING for those people who do not have a sense of danger, they are LOOKING for those people who are unaware of inner messages of alarm ...

All of this stuff goes back to what the cops taught us as kids - in the wake of the kidnapping of our little classmate.

Posted by: red at January 13, 2005 01:20 PM

Please don't confuse martial arts with self-defense. Martial arts is wonderful for confidence building, but the rigid way it must be taught discourages real all-out street fighting which is what you need for self-defense. Many "martial artists" get their asses kicked by others who just fight to win, not to be stylish about it. I'm not knocking martial arts, but get those girls into a self-defense class too.

Posted by: Ted at January 13, 2005 08:57 PM

My three kids take tae kwon do, in a typical low-rent fluorescent lighted facility in a strip mall, but self-defense (in addition to traditional skills like form, sparring, etc.) is an integral part of the program...using pretty much all the same moves I learned in my women's self-defense course in the '80s. My girls are already extroverted and athletic, so it's been a pretty natural fit, but it's been particularly beneficial for the physical and psychological confidence of my son, who got saddled with the lion's share of his mom's shy-and-klutzy genes.

Posted by: Chan S. at January 14, 2005 09:04 AM

Yes, we're checking out the extent of any self-defense component built into this program.

Posted by: Robert the LB at January 14, 2005 09:08 AM

ELBOWS. Little kids can inflict grown-up level pain if they know how to use their elbows.

You can also ask your local police department if they can come to schools and teach real self-defense techniques. Fighting down and dirty and all that. Biting, kicking, screaming ... all that stuff was taught to us when we were kids - with role-playing, and acting stuff out. Very helpful. (I agree with Ted, is basically what I'm tryin' to say.)

Posted by: red at January 14, 2005 10:59 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?