Not long ago I asked whether Tae Kwon Do would be right for my 4-year-old. I got a few different responses, and my wife and I had our own thoughts. But seeing as we have absolutely no idea what motivates and drives our children, it was probably best to just let Dalia try it and see what happened.
She loved it.
I wasn’t there, but my wife’s report from inside the Tae Kwon Do class was that Dalia could hardly believe the awesomeness that was the punching bag—finally, something she was not just allowed to hit but supposed to hit. They literally had to pull her off the thing so other kids could get time on it.
Even with all the emphasis on performing and showing off, she rarely brought ballet home with her after class. Very little “I learned that” or “watch this!” But after her first class of Tae Kwon Do, she was all kicks and punches—wild arm and leg swinging—the whole evening. And the next day. And on the weekend, playing in the fountains at Central Park, she spent the whole time trying to beat the crap out of the streams of water.
There is, perhaps, truth to what Theodore said in his account of JP’s John Ford moment on the playground: that there’s a “total embargo on male aggression” in a lot of families. But female aggression needs its space, too, and the zeal with which Dalia took to fight-sport makes me think we haven’t been letting her get her shots in.
It also makes we wonder if we shouldn’t plan a full East L.A. renovation on our little concrete patio. One of the things that first fascinated me when I started dating my wife was the makeshift gym on the concrete driveway at one of her relative’s house in East L.A. There was a heavy hitting bag hanging from a tree and an old bench press with 10-, 20- and 50-lb. weights on it, next to an oversized and expired container of protein powder. It was just like a Manhattan Equinox gym, except without the Teeth Whitening and Glamicure services, and the only users were the grown boys of the family, who would juice up on testosterone when they got out of prison or rehab.
Maybe that setup would seem a little incongruent in our Upper Breast Side patio, but the yard is made of cracked concrete and bare cinderblock. It’s just aching for prison-grade workout equipment. And now it’s official: Dalia has retired the tutu. It’s time to fight.