Don’t Be a Seth
Is it wrong to call a ten-year-old boy an asshat?
Even if it’s true?
Worse, is it wrong to laugh at him when he gets his butt kicked?
Boy-child has taekwondo several times a week. Inevitably, the classes he takes contain the bete noir of the class, the evil monster child that all the parents loath, the thorn in our collective sides.
Seth is a problem child. Seth is a smart child. Seth is a manipulative child, who learned all his manners from his father, who is no doubt one of those ‘pushy’ car salespeople that you wish would get found by a lost tribe and chooses “death…by bunga bunga”.
Seth’s mom (apparently) can’t get through the day without several doses of ‘Mothers Little Helper’. She always looks stoned. She rarely shows up to drop off/pick up her child, and when she does, she sits in the row of chairs, picks at imaginary fuzzies on her coat, and then exclaims, out loud, “Ooh! Look! Lint!”
Seth likes to cause trouble. Seth is almost a black belt and should know better.
Seth likes to ask questions just to hear himself talk…rather, just to hear himself yell in his loudest voice. “WHY…WHY DO WE HAVE TO BOW TO THE FLAGS?”
“Because it shows reverence and politeness.”
“BUT WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? I TOOK A KARATE CLASS AND DIDN’T HAVE TO BOW, I THINK THIS IS STUPID.”
Seth pushes. Seth chatters. Seth has an ‘evil eye’.
While the taekwondo masters and assistants are very good at catching Seth after an incident and addressing the problem area with a quiet lesson, Seth doesn’t learn.
The masters also like to see Seth get his butt handed to him.
Several months ago, Seth was in a sparring demonstration with one of the masters. Seth screwed around, didn't listen to the master, didn't do what was asked…and the instructor kicked…and a trickle of blood was drawn from Seth’s face.
“You’ll be alright”, the master said, and continued class.
All the parents felt extreme satisfaction.
Three weeks ago, Seth and Boy-child were paired together in a sparring session. They tied. The tie-breaker was flag-sparring, where each wore a white flag in the back of their belts, and the object was to grab the other guy’s flag. They sparred for a bit and then each pulled the other’s flag at about the same time. I didn’t see who won (Girl-child was pulling my focus), and neither did the masters. They asked the kids waiting along the wall who had won. “Boy-child”, they all agreed.
Seth didn’t like that. Seth started pointing his finger at his classmates and yelling at them, “YOU JUST DON’T LIKE ME! YOU KNOW I WON AND YOU LIED! YOU LIED! YOU LIKE BOY-CHILD BEST!” Seth’s face grew tomato-red. Then he stuck his pointer finger in Boy-child’s face and spit out, “YOU KNOW I WON! THEY JUST LIKE YOU BEST! I WON!" And so on.
Boy-child turned around to look at me, bemusement on his face. I shrugged. Boy-child shrugged and we both stifled big-ass smiles.
The masters came over, took Seth to a quiet corner, put him in push-up position, and had a not-so-quiet discussion with him about manners, and respect, and the tenets of taekwondo (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit). Seth was made to sit out the rest of class for his behaviour.
Boy-child and I talked about it afterward, and I praised him for not getting upset when Seth got all up in his bid’ness.
“Yeah, but it’s SETH,” Boy-child said, “He has NO manners!”
Last night was another incident, this time with another boy. Seth threw a hissy fit because he couldn’t be in the first row where the other boy was. He screamed, he cried, he bad-mouthed. He grudgingly went to the back row and gave one of the masters the ‘evil eye’ for not stepping in and letting Seth move to the front of the line. The master ignored him. The class went on. And collectively, the parents, the masters, the kids, all had a mind-meld experience:
Hug your kids, if you have ‘em, and have a good weekend, y’all!