I’ve sat down to write this a couple of times, but could never find the right words to share what it means to us to be a part of the WAIMA family.

Kade has always been a high energy child, headstrong and stubborn, getting him to listen and focus is a constant challenge as is finding a way to get some of his vast amounts of energy burnt off while providing him with the mental stimulation he needs. About three years ago, we had been invited to a birthday party at the dojo where he had a blast and wanted to be a ninja like his friends. This was just after he’d had another head injury from falling over himself as being so high energy ‘walking’ was a unknown concept for him, and the idea of him burning off his energy in a relatively safe space like the dojo was an attractive solution. Might sound strange the word ‘safe’ and a dojo where you expect to earn a fair few injuries, but it is primarily a padded room after all 

So K joined the Ninja-ru program. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but frustration, anger, and helplessness wasn’t part of what I thought I’d experience. K loved being a ninja, he always said that he wanted to go and yet when he was in class there would be about 10 minutes of participation before he would just get up and run. He even perfected what I call the ‘drop and flop’ so well that I still remember the look of sheer panic on Sempai’s face as he was totally unresponsive, then in a flash he was up and running yet again. Through it all, the instructors were amazing. Taking off after him in a flash with no outward sign of frustration, but this is where my frustration, anger, and helplessness took off. Why was he so disruptive to the class? Why does he say that he wants to be in the classes yet behaves this way? I had no answers, but we kept coming. I could see that he was learning, and when he was having a good day he was very good plus he’s very determined to become a black belt.

About two years after starting, K was diagnosed with a handful of things, the top three being Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (hyperactive), ADHD (inattentive), and Oppositional Defiance Disorder, with Emotional Dysregulation thrown in for good measure.

A year prior to his diagnosis I had also started training at the dojo. If K wanted to be a black belt, I was going to have to keep ahead of him. This was a scary enough concept for myself, not being built for ‘sports’ and with added anxieties of my own I jumped off the deep end into four classes a week. I could never maintain an exercise regime, however mental stimulation of learning a martial art at the same time has kept me consistently training. Except for when I needed knee surgery, remember what I said about the dojo being safe? It still is, I gloriously injured my knee… doing housework.

Heh I’m still not built for sports, but I’m improving. K just earned his fourth tip on his junior blue belt and I’ve acquired my second tip for my own blue belt. K still has his moments, and I’m sure I look like the quintessential helicopter parent but we’re both learning; him to persevere and me to temper my frustrations.

K loves being able to train with his friends, and has been lucky enough to drag a couple of them along from school.

Nita Greenbank

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