Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Eat Your Veggies
Well, like I said, we have a 7 year old daughter - not just a four (now almost 5) year old son. Additionally, I have two other kids that I've had under my paternal wing since they were 4 and 2, and they are now 11 and 8. They too have been and are being trained under the same perspective. So, though I have a 4 year old, a 7 year old, an 8 year old, and an 11 year old, I'm sure someone will write in and say, "Well, just wait till they are 14," or "wait till they are 16" or "just wait till they hit 17," etc. I mean, that has to be expected. However, for me, the difficulty that each age brings, and as you know each age has difficulty,does not do away with the fact that Aikido training cannot be solely based upon preference (as eating vegetables is not) and that it must ultimately, as every human being must for his/her own spiritual maturity and thus for his/her own overall wellness, move beyond dualistic thinking such as like/dislike (which in the end is required by the art - as I understand it).
For me, it is exactly as you say: I, as a father, and as a teacher, should face the difficulties of each age not with forfeiture but with all of my efforts and talents. I just tend to understand that simply as what must be done, rather than a "just wait" kind of thing. As I said, for me, this is how we should face our training as adults as well - our own training. Because if we do not, there is a "just wait" for graduating from college, finding a significant other, starting a career, getting married, moving far from the dojo, having a child, having two children, having three children, buying a house, hitting 30, hitting 40, hitting 50, our teacher dying, hurting our knee, hurting our shoulder, having hypertension, realizing we didn't know everything we thought we knew, etc.
It's how we come to contextualize the difficulties in life that determines whether we are conquered by them, whether we grow from them, or whether we have them at all. Though my 11 year old has made it through my perspective, and my 8 year old as well, and though my 7 and 4 year old seem to be doing it even better than they did through these younger ages (due to their example being an added benefit), I will of course have to wait to see what the future holds. My feeling, and my experience, is in line with Janet's however. The kids grow up being used to what they are getting used to. If a child, or us, lives a life where we judge things and people according to like and dislike (e.g. egocentrically), and thereby determine what we should and should not do, be or should not be, or if a child, and us, are used to whining, crying, and/or other forms of relating to the wold with resistance, if we are not used to the inner peace that comes from non-resistance, non-attachment, and acceptance, if we are used only to contrasting the world to us and to itself, setting it up and experiencing it according to either/or dualisms (e.g. video games or Aikido), then, yeah, getting to Aikido, for the child, for us, is surely an ordeal - just like the rest of life would be.