Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Own Karate Kid

WAY Cuter than Ralph Macchio

When I was young my mother put me in just about every lesson she could afford (and then some).  I was in dance, gymnastics, singing, cheer leading, guitar, banjo, piano, softball, basketball and even memory classes.  I haven't asked her recently, but I assume her philosophy was to not only create well rounded children but to encourage us to try new things and to help us realize where our talents and interests were.  We were never told we had to do one certain thing just because she had done it or because she wanted us to.  She wanted us to do what WE wanted.  (This goes for my Dad too)  As we weeded out things that were not quite for us, we then were able to continue doing those things we truly enjoyed.

My dad plays the piano and I love listening to him play and sing - always have.  Had my parents given that to me as my only option, I am pretty sure I would still only know how to play chop sticks. However, three of my sisters play beautifully.   I could probably still play one song on the banjo, but that is it.  As for basketball, well that is just sad.  For whatever reason, the guitar just stuck with me as did singing, dancing, gymnastics and softball.   I am not great at any of them, but I enjoy them and have been able to teach others as well as share some of these talents with others.  My mom is a great cook, great mother and has a beautiful voice.  All of my sisters are very talented and they all have different talents.  A few did dance, two of us played guitar when we were younger and I think most all of my sisters have picked it up to some degree throughout their lives. One sister played violin and we can all sing.  A few of my sisters are amazing cooks, one is SO organized and amazing with finances, one is so creative and artistic and they are all great mothers.  My youngest sister is not married yet, but she will be the most amazing mom because of how much she helps all of us and how much she has learned in doing so.   I am grateful that my mom let us all find out for ourselves what we wanted to do and didn't try to make us who she wanted us to be.  How boring would that be?!!

So what does all of this have to do with anything? Everything!  All of us learn lessons from our parents, teachers and just throughout life.  I have learned that lesson from my mom and now I am able to follow that path with my own children.  If I really had it my way, they would all play guitar, drums, bass and form their own band.  That may still happen someday (if they want it to).  I would also have Hazel in dance and the boys in sports.  I loved softball and their Papa was an amazing football player and... well... he pretty much is amazing at all sports.  I thought Brody would follow in his father's footsteps so at the young age of 4 we started him in sports.  (I apologize if this is a repeat but there have been too many posts and I don't always remember what I have already written. )  During his soccer games he got the entire team to climb the fence and pretend to be spider man.  He ran the opposite direction of the ball and then would usually just quit halfway through the game.  He did better at T-ball, but still wasn't into it.  So far having Brody do things that we liked was just not working out.  Because of how I was raised, that was okay with me and I knew that in time we would find things that Brody enjoyed and was good at.  (Now because of Brain Balance, a lot of that is changing.  He has expressed interest in playing the guitar and now would be much more capable of doing so.  He is also interested in sports and, as you have seen in earlier posts, is picking them up quite quickly!)

So far over the last year Brody was in a couple of little plays that he enjoyed, he LOVES art (which he did NOT get from me) and he was loving the gymnastics class he was in before we moved.  He has also tried a tap/tumbling/hip hop class and a music class which were not successful.  It was not that these classes were not fun -  he really enjoyed them -but because of his brain imbalance, he was just NOT able to sit still at all, focus, follow directions, etc.  He didn't know when to be silly and when to be calm.  His social behavior was not at all typical for a child of his age.

Below I have two short videos.  These are from about 6 months ago when Brody was in his tap/tumbling class.  I wanted to give you a little taste of what he was like in a class setting before Brain Balance.  I wish I had some more videos because these are really nothing compared to what was going on.  He has always been a good sweet kid, but now I realize that he was always acting his developmental age which was only about 3-4 years old at the time. (Even though he was 7 or 8) 

In the first video you will notice Brody not even being able to stand still.  He is playing around and fidgeting with his pants and the teacher has to ask him about 3 times to come over for his turn.  When he gets there he starts randomly doing jumping jacks and acting hyper rather than getting ready for his somersault. 

In the second video you will see him trying a backward roll.  first of all, he is not really strong enough to push himself up.  Secondly, he isn't listening to how the teacher is telling him to do it.  Thirdly, he is distracted by the other students talking and laughing.  Lastly, he gets silly and acts ticklish and falls on the floor laughing.

Most of the time (in all of his classes) he was running around the room, not paying attention, being silly and not listening at all to the teacher.  Did he do all of those things because he was a bad kid?  Or maybe because he had bad parents who didn't discipline him?  Absolutely not!  We always knew that there was something going on, but until Brain Balance nothing really made sense.  They were also just labels with no solution.   Even though he LOVED his gymnastics class, he was so distracted in that big gym that he would run all over the place from trampoline to bars, etc doing whatever he wanted.  When the teacher wanted him to do something, he would be silly or complain or try to just do something else.  (All things a three year old would do, not an 8 year old) Because of these things, it was really hard to have him in many classes or lessons.  It was distracting to the other children and he always ended up getting into trouble.  This didn't help his self esteem at all.

Okay, watch the videos, and then meet me down below....

Brody has always mentioned little things here and there about taking Karate.  When he was younger I knew that because of his hyperactivity and impulses that this would not be the best option for him...  In addition, I have never been into Karate or anything of the sort.  Maybe it was because I had 4 sisters? I don't know, but I just never had a desire for my kids to be involved in it.  But it is about Brody and not me!   Since moving here, Brody has brought Karate up a few times again.  One of his fellow BB kids was in it and told him about it and he looks up to his uncle Drayton who is a successful MMA fighter.

Even though I knew Brody was different now, I was still a little apprehensive about putting him in anything.  I hated that awkward conversation with the teacher where I tried to explain why Brody acted the way that he did.  Some teachers were sensitive and tried to help and some were not very nice and made him feel bad.  Other kids looked at him funny at times and I know the parents were all wondering what I was doing wrong as a mother.  I had just not been ready to go there again. 

Just a few days ago we received a mailer with local coupons.  There was an ad for the martial arts center and Brody was immediately interested.  They have a 6 week summer deal going on that was too good to pass up and Brody was begging so I told him we had to ask Papa.  Papa agreed and Brody had his first class today!  I knew in my heart that Brody would be different and that he would be SO different that there would be no need for that awkward conversation with the coach.

I was right! 
Okay - now that you have seen the videos above from BEFORE Brain Balance, please watch this first video from today.  Please notice Brody SITTING STILL!  This is huge and amazing.  He never used to even do this for a meal, homework, church, classes or anything.  He is sitting still, paying attention, nodding and listening to the coach, etc.  Also notice that he is not looking all over the room as if he is completely distracted.  This is also very new.  There is a part where the coach is asking them what rule #2 is and Brody fills in the correct answer - even though he has never heard the rules!  He was able to see where the coach was going and finished his sentence.  Amazing.

Also, and this is HUGE:   Brody is listening and not talking.  As you will see in the videos below, he is going to have to still work on the not talking thing, but he did great for his first day!  He would randomly say something and the coach would nicely tell him not to talk or thank him for being quiet.  I was very impressed with how he never made the kids feel bad for making a mistake. 

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT???   I do believe it, because it is real.  While I was there watching I was impressed by how well he did, but didn't really realize how amazing it was until I came home and watched the videos. 

These videos all took FOREVER to load!  I am going to caption the darling pictures and videos and be on my way. 
When Brody first put on his Gi he wanted to do a Karate pose to send to his Papa.  :)  NOTE:  Brody has always been bothered by clothes.  Too big, too small, too short, too long, tags bothers him, etc.  He doesn't have that long of legs and most all pants are too long for him.  We try to get him to roll the top of the pants down so that he doesn't trip over them but he HATES it and won't do it.  Well today the coach told him he should roll them if they were too long.  He mentioned that he didn't like that and we went to get him dressed. While getting ready I suggested we just try it again.  He allowed me to do it, didn't freak out AT ALL and left it the way it was.  This is truly remarkable as these issues have been troubling him since he was 3 or 4 years old...

So grown up and SO handsome!  This is right before his class started.  He sat in the chair right by me and waited patiently until they were ready to start.  He didn't run around the room, explore everything, touch everything or kick the equipment like I KNOW he would have 3 months ago....

Gi from the back....

More proof of darling Brody sitting still :)

Stretching with the class.  You should have seen us fighting with him to do stretches at gymnastics.  He didn't want to, he wouldn't follow what we were doing, he would run around, etc. 

I am just still shocked seeing these photos where he is standing there with the other children (older and younger), doing exactly what he is supposed to. 

Just can't get over how cute he is!

Action photos always blur, but I loved seeing him doing his kicks.  What do I notice about this photo?  That he is doing it at the SAME TIME as everyone else.  His rhythm and timing in his brain (and now his body) is functioning.  He now can hear "kick" and kick right when he is supposed to - on time with the other children.

Blocking.  He definitely needs some work in this area.  His reflexes were much slower than the other kids, but that is okay.  He started picking it up pretty quickly.  The best part is that he didn't get discouraged when he got hit in the head with the noodle rather than blocked it.  He just laughed and kept trying. 
NOW FOR MORE VIDEOS!  These really are SO cute - especially considering how far he has come.  I could tell how proud of himself that he was after class and that makes me so happy.  

In this first video it is amazing to watch him following along and keeping up with the coach.  He watches and changes when he is supposed to.  His coordination and motor planning is completely different from what it used to be.  Paige and I were remembering just the other day how hard it was to teach him to do a jumping jack - even at 7 years old.  Notice he gets in trouble for talking a couple of times :)

Man!  All of these videos are just too cute!  I know I keep saying that...  :)   In this one I love to see him again following EXACLTY  what the teacher says and EXACTLY when he says it.  We have always had to tell him things multiple times before he follows the direction.  His auditory processing when we started BB was VERY low.  As you can see in this video, that is no longer the case.  I am still amazed that he is not running around the room!

In this video they are practicing their "back fist".  (I sure learned a lot today...)  I love to watch him hitting the pads when he is supposed to and just watching him be so interested in what is going on.  Even his response to the teacher's question was quick and mature.  A few months ago there would have been a huge delay followed by an "um".  Then there would either be a silly answer that did not relate to the question at all, or sometimes the correct answer. 

In this last video Brody is practicing his "front kick".  I love that he follows directions and does a slow kick first like requested.  He then does the faster kicks.  He gets caught for talking again but immediately stops when asked.  Three months ago Brody probably would have kicked and hit that pad in a completely uncontrolled fashion - almost spastic.  I know because I have seen him do it.

I hope you have enjoyed watching these videos as much as I have.  They truly are proof of what the Brain Balance program does in less than three months time.  Brody:  

  • Is more mature
  • Can stand/sit still
  • Follows directions
  • Is not hyperactive
  • Is not impulsive
  • Is more focused
  • Has age appropriate behavior
  • Has more socially appropriate behavior
  • Has better coordination
  • Has more athletic ability
  • Has more stregnth
  • Has more self confidence
  • Has better self esteem
  • Has more self control
  • Has better auditory processing
  • Has less sensory issues (pant rolling, etc.)
  • Answers questions appropriatley
  • Pays attention
  • Eats better
  • Feels better
  • Has way less stomach aches
  • Sleeps better
  • Plays better
  • Listens better,
  • Etc.
  • Etc.
  • Etc. 
You get the picture :)

As we got in the car to head home I told Brody how amazing he did!  I was also talking to him about not talking during class.  I explained that it was very hard not to just say things that we want to say or that come into our head and that we have to work at it.  I told him that it was something that was even hard for me.  He looked at me with a little grin and said "You would never be able to do it"  What?!  Did he really say that?  I laughed and told him he was a cute little punk and asked him why he would say that.  He said that he would just be able to do better than me at not talking.  I asked him if I talked too much and his reply was "maybe".  What  a sweet boy for not being too brutally honest to his poor Mama.  Yes, I talk too much,  I write too much and it almost killed me in the class today sitting there for 30 minutes not being able to say even one word.  My husband is nodding his head right now :)

So we all have things to work on and we all have lessons to learn and they don't ever stop.  We can always learn, change, improve and our brain can also continually change.  If there is something you are not good at, work harder.  If there is something you have always wanted to try, then try it.  If there is something you gave up on at some point in your life and regret it, then start again.  It is NEVER too late.  We ALL have the power to change our brains,  change our lives and be happy, balanced, well rounded individuals.


P.S.  When I used to take video or pictures of Brody (even a couple of months ago) he would tell me that I was not allowed to put it on the blog.  When I asked him why, he said that it was embarrassing.  Today as I took the first picture of him in his Gi he said "You can put this stuff on the blog, but not Facebook".  How cute is that?  I asked him why and he said "Because more people look at the blog and will see it".  He is no longer embarrassed, but happy and proud.  I love my sweet Brody!