As many of you know, our daughter has been doing ballet for months. She really enjoys it and is practicing all of the time. We wanted to find something for our son to do also so Becky thought about a six week class of Tae Kwon Do at a local martial arts academy that is designed for four and five year olds. I practiced this martial art myself 20 years ago so it was something that I could help him learn.
As soon as the class ended, they lined the kids up and gave each of them a stamp on the hand. I didn’t notice it until we got home, but the stamp was of the yin-yang symbol. I wasn’t sure what to think about it so I did a little research on what the symbol means and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t something I wanted our family to display. Becky and I talked about it and we decided that we would give our son his own little kid tattoo so that he didn’t feel out of place. We also decided that I needed to tell the instructors that our son was not to receive a stamp after the next lesson.
The next week’s lesson time came so on the way we talked about the stamp and I reminded him that he was not to take one if offered. Even though I was going to talk to the instructor, I knew that they might forget and possibly give one to him anyway. I went over it numerous time with our son;
“What are you going to say if they ask if you want a stamp?”
“No thank you.”
Once we arrived at the academy, I talked to the head instructor and asked him to remember my son and that he was not to receive the yin-yang stamp. I explained that it represented a world view that we did not hold so I preferred not to have my son wear one. I also told him that other people have the right to choose to wear one and that we weren’t judging anyone who did, it just wasn’t for us. The instructor was very understanding and had no trouble with our request. As were were walking away, I overheard him tell one of the other instructors, “We’ll have to remember that.”
At the end of class, our son just happened to be the first in line for the drill they were just finishing so he was the first kid they asked if he wanted a stamp. Now, I can’t tell you how many times we went over this, but every single time he gave the correct answer until now. He said, not quite at the top of his lungs, ” I can’t! It was kind of funny, but I could not help but think, “No, your suppose to say, ‘No, thank you!'”
During the whole week, it occurred to me that this is what JW parents must feel like. They instruct their children to abstain from birthdays, holidays and extra curricular activities at school and have to explain their position to the children’s teachers. The kids are expected to withstand peer pressure and obey the wishes of their parents, even if it conflicts with their own desires. I realize that this is but a small taste of what JWs experience, but nonetheless, it is a valuable lesson.
Are we as Christians willing to risk ridicule, embarrassment and possible alienation for our convictions? Personally, the yin-yang symbol is not that big of a deal for me, but what is a big deal to me is standing up for my convictions. I looked at this situation as an opportunity to exercise my fortitude and use this as a teaching lesson for our son. If we can take advantage of enough opportunities like this, hopefully it will stick with our son.
Here is a short video clip of our son in the Tae Kwon Do class.