Kids usually aren’t allowed to train jiu-jitsu at our school, but a few years ago Shihan gave permission for one of them to come to class. I think his dad trained with him at first, but by the time I started, Eric was attending by himself. It didn’t take long for me to form a bond with The Boy. Sorry, I’m not supposed to call him The Boy anymore, because he’s thirteen now.
Eric’s mother is not a part of his life, and for the past couple of years I have been his “dojo mom”. We play catch together before class, and we talk about video games and music. He confides in me about school and girl problems, and he confesses when he gets in trouble, He seeks my guidance when he’s confused, and I try to steer him in the right direction. Sometimes he gets lazy, so a few times I have bribed him with lifesavers if he could tap me out, and I have never seen a kid work so hard in my life as he does for that candy! I always let him tap me in the end, to reward him for his hard work (but don’t tell him I let him :)
He is moving away soon, and I feel like I am losing a child. He’s like the son I never had, and I’m going to miss seeing him grow into a man. I hate thinking about him leaving. The only solace I have is that I know he will never forget me, and that in our time together I have helped to form his young mind. I know I have had an impact on him that will help shape his future for years to come.
These are the kind of positive differences we can make in the lives of others through the martial arts. We can be role models and mentors, teachers and friends. Even if we only have a short amount of time together, we can touch hearts and grow minds. I will miss The Boy very much, but I’m glad that I had the chance to have an impact on his life.