No words start a day off worse than hearing "Ian, you just broke dad's iPad."
In the echo of that recent Sunday morning announcement, there were some tense moments, especially when the details emerged of an angry Ian, a wildly swinging leg, and a tragically located iPad. In the immediate aftermath, I thought it would help burying Ian in guilt, so I reminded him over and over and over that he'd essentially just peed on a $750 bill. Of course nothing diverts Ian's attention from the issue at hand quicker than a potty word. And it didn't help matters that Elliott was now standing next to Ian in a state of confusion, clearly trying hard to recall which president is on the $750 bill. So much got lost in that moment.
Ian was eventually issued a temporary restraining order forbidding him to touch anything electronic until he could earn enough money to replace my iPad. Given that he was currently making a buck a load helping his mama fold laundry, I figured muscle fatigue would derail any hopes of him touching an Apple product other than a Red Delicious before he graduated high school. His mama figured that, too, I think, so she came to his rescue.
Katie decided to look on the bright side of Ian's powerful leg extension and enrolled him in martial arts training. It would help with his discipline, she told me. Nice, I thought. Will this help him fold more laundry?
An unexpected thing happened, though. Ian really got into it. And yes, I could see him getting more disciplined, but it was more than that. Being the little brother, Ian is always trying to keep up with Elliott. He wants to throw the ball as far, run as fast, read as well, draw better pictures - and not just as well, the more I think about it, but he wants to do all of those things better than Elliott. Most, if not all of the time, that doesn't happen, and it makes him mad.
(See broken iPad above.)
With the martial arts, though, Ian finally had his own thing. Elliott wasn't involved, so Ian was superior by default. And to Ian superior is superior, so he was all smiles.
Last night came the biggest smile of all. All week Ian had been talking about testing for his yellow belt last night. I was out working on a project while he was testing, but found myself wondering how he'd do. I don't think I'd ever seen him pursuing a goal with the kind of commitment and enthusiasm he was chasing this belt, so I was really rooting for him.
When I came home Ian met me at the door and told me to go sit in my chair. Then, with no shortage of drama, he revealed the yellow belt. Wild high-fives started flying everywhere. We paused for a moment to make sure there weren't any iPads in our path, then started swinging a few more around. I love watching people achieve goals. I really love watching my 5 year-old achieve his first big one.
So chalk this experience up to another brilliant idea from the mama of this family. In addition to her brilliance, though, Katie has also led the campaign to lift Ian's restraining order. She labored away for hours repairing the iPad screen with a kit she ordered on the internet. It was a bit cheaper than replacing the soiled $750 bill - about $730 cheaper to be exact. And now, thanks to a small bag of change Ian brought home from grandma and grandpas house last weekend, a reflection of his hard work and not their sympathy, I'm sure, Ian's made things right.
Judging by the look on his face last night, though, I think he gladly trade that iPad in for a yellow belt. Now that it's back in one piece, I think I'd take that trade.