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  • Writer's pictureMatt Powell

Samurai on the School Run

I am not going to sugar coat this!

At the risk of sounding like a privileged jerk devoid of bigger issues I need to be honest.

Sometimes the school run sucks!

A few years back I left the house no later than six am every day except Tuesdays when I took my son to school. I had an agreement with my managers and once a week I would drop him in, and it was a joy!

On Tuesdays we would slowly wander to school and chat about random things, and it was lovely. We were never rushed, and everything slipped into place. I felt like Dad of the year as I imparted important knowledge on how to handle Pokemon swaps or breaktime headlocks.

Now I realise it was easy because it was a novelty …… for us both!

Since I stopped working conventionally, I have become a regular on the school runs. I even have a certain ‘spot’ where I stand for pickups. In my mind it is like the directors paring space I used to have. 😊 (Only less ostentatious and nicer!)

I now walk the kids to school and pick them up at least three times a week. My son who remembers my old routine is still a joy and we have nice conversations, my daughter who does not consider the new routine a blessing is far more challenging!

My wife is one of those people who loves her bed. Not that she gets a chance that often now, but before kids she would find any excuse for a snooze. My daughter is cut from the same cloth, and I often must wake her up for school at 8am.

By this time, I have made some lunches and organised clothes for them both as best I can. My son who is an early riser like me will have eaten, gotten dressed, and happily be gaming online before we leave.

But the gremlin is different. …… She has to come around!

The next thirty minutes are a battle!

My Daughter! Sass in a Gi!

My daughter likes to take her time when choosing breakfast, eating breakfast, getting dressed, cleaning her teeth and deciding on which style she would like to wear her hair.

I’m not good at hair styling so after being accused of ‘hurting her on purpose’ when I brush it we often opt for a low pony tail….. classic!

Invariably we rush out of the door at nine forty and make it to school just on time.

I have now become one of the hurried parents I used to pass on the return leg back in the day when I only had to organise my Son once a week.

I often ask my wife how she manages to organise everything in the morning so well. Especially compared to my madness. She simply comments that it is my own fault and that our daughter senses and smells my weakness.

She is right….. she pushes my buttons!

I am now in the lovely position where I teach several of my son’s school friends’ karate at our Knowle dojo. It is not uncommon for me to hear a few ‘hello Sensei’ or ‘good morning Oscars Dad I mean Sensei’ on the way in and through the gates.

This sits in contrast to the giggles and smiles I face at my daughter’s gate as she has told the teachers that I love them and think they are pretty! Sigh! 😊

What strikes me is that to those kids on the school run they only see the calm stroll to the school, they do not see the chaos that happened before. To those I teach I AM Sensei and I seem to have it all together, just like I do in the dojo.

The reality is that I don’t! At least not for the school run!

I make it to school on time by the skin on my teeth! And I always need a calming cuppa after. 😊

The stark contrast between my parenting control and the composure I inhabit when teaching is not lost on me.

Somehow I need to follow my own example when at home with my own kids…..

strangely it doesn’t feel that easy!

Juniors at Knowle Village Dojo

I chuckled to myself last week when I pondered whether Samurai Warriors used to take their children to school in feudal Japan? Somehow, I know that if they did, they would have been more in control than I am.

So, I guess my realisation here is that regardless of how together we think people are or indeed the strength they may publicly exhibit, everyone is facing challenges we may not see or understand.

I remember when my Dad was slowly slipping away in the Hospice and I had been there for approaching 48 hours. My Mum and Sister had returned, and I drove home for a shower and a meal. As I was indicating to turn into my road another motorist was angrily tooting his horn and waving aggressively at me as he felt I was taking too long. He simply didn’t know what I was dealing with and that I was just about keeping myself together! (From that day on I have tried to always be patient with my fellow motorists).

Last week I had a eureka moment!

I suddenly realised what my primary function as a Sensei is.

My students need me to help them focus on the present moment for a few hours each week.

When they are in my presence, I am a welcome distraction. My teaching and presentation should allow them to forget everything else and just focus on their training.

They get to be the Samurai

…… not the stressed parent on the school run!

And so do I 😊 …… at least for a few hours.

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