Elsa’s karate blues

At some point during this school year, the fact that our little neighbour, Finley, was taking karate lessons, had a big impact on you. You had already mentioned to me near the end of the last school year that he was doing karate and that you wanted to do the same.

I have often thought about putting you in a martial art so that you can learn to defend yourself and measure your strength, but Chéri was not a fan of “fighting” as a sport, which I totally understand.

So we kept you in gymnastics again this year… and I’m paying the price.

You’ve always loved wrestling with me because, I think, it makes you feel strong despite being the smallest in the family; it gives you a feeling of being powerful. Until this year, I could take it just fine. The pain of your pushing and pulling at my body and limbs, even your cannon balls onto my back or belly when I was laying down, was more easily bearable.

But, of course, you grew up and the pain levels grew with you. Holy mother of dragons, you’re going to break me. To be fair, you do warn me, when you’re in karate fight mode, that you’ll crush me and kill me and whatnot. Sometimes I have to remind you that I don’t like death threats and you quickly snap out of it for a second to apologise before going straight back into fight mode.

When the nice weather started this spring, there were a couple of weeks where Finley would come over to our yard, or you went to his, and you played wrestling with him in the trampoline. That’s a good place to roughhouse because it’s surrounded by a safety net and the “floor” is flexible. You can still get hurt, as you proved to us while playing rough with Nina on many occasions, but it’s safer than the hard ground.

A couple of times I saw the wrestling matches between you and Finley, and I was equal parts impressed by your fearlessness and worried he could hurt you; but I couldn’t imagine interrupting the game with some lame, motherly “be careful, not so rough” requests. Isn’t that how we got girls and women in this mess to begin with? Why should we keep girls from testing their physical strength against any adversary? Especially since boys are not limited in that way!

There weren’t many more of those wrestling matches past the early spring so, naturally, you needed another opponent; someone you could regularly “practice” with. Ouch.

After several months of fulfilling my role, my body is covered in bruises (“bleus” in French) and I’ve grown fearful of your “karate mode” face. Your dad knows that face as well (somebody has to fill in when I’m out of order!). It’s usually in the evenings that you suddenly remember that you need to train, mostly at bedtime when we tell you to go to bed and wait for us to come give you a kiss.

You’ll often hide, in a dark corner of your room, under your beanbag, behind the chair, and lunge at me when I come in to say “goodnight.” But I know what I’m stepping into and, most nights, I’m ready and up for it.

Chéri thinks I’m nuts to accept the beatings and he’s worried that you don’t respect my boundaries (you don’t often stop when I say “stop”). This is a lesson that will come soon. I’m just proud to have such strong daughters and I want to do everything I can to let you discover and develop yourselves. A few “blues” from my Elsa are a small price to pay.

I love you, my crazy karateka.

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