My little princess broke two wooden boards the other night - one with a palm strike, the other with a sidekick. The first board broke on the initial try. With the second board, it took her two kicks to break it.
It was part of her tae kwon do graduation to a higher belt. I sat in the audience, holding my breath. I wasn't feeling well, coming down with a cold or flu - likely whatever was being passed around at the local elementary - and I felt cranky and out of sorts.
I was afraid she'd break her hand, break her foot. I was wondering how smart I'd been, signing her up for this whole sport. I thought about when she was little, all the cute little dance outfits I'd bought her, the ones she refused to wear. I sighed.
Then the sparring part of the graduation began, where the students practice fight moves with others at their level. One girl got kicked in the mouth; a boy bent over double after a hit to the ribs. I could feel my anxiety rising. The hits were accidents, of course, but they happened nevertheless.
A particularly large student, one of the advanced ones, seemed very rough. "Would you let you daughter spar with him?" I hissed to my husband. "He looks like Goliath. No way is she ever sparring with him."
He shrugged. "If she was ready," he answered mildly.
After the graduation, my daughter was jubilant. She showed me her boards, re-enacted where her hand and foot landed on each one, told me how nervous she was beforehand and how she calmed herself down by counting.
"I'm saving these," she said, gloating over the broken wood. "I'm putting them in my room."
I looked at her, and my heart swelled with pride. I wondered then, about my earlier thoughts. Was I being sensible, or simply overprotective? Only time will tell. It's a bridge I'm not looking forward to crossing.