Dear Dojo Parents

We see you.

It’s hard enough just being an adult in 2022, never mind keeping whole-ass human beings alive, fed, educated, entertained, and culturally, spiritually and emotionally enriched.

You’ve got work. You’ve got a home to run. You’re trying to make ends meet, but every month there’s less to work with, and always something that pops up, like that expensive noise your car is making. There’s the juggling of commitments, and also the nagging feeling that you really should get that persistent ache checked out, but first the kids need to go to the dentist, and it can always wait another month. For the fifth month in a row.

You’re run down, but it is winter so the common cold has become a permanent household member and everyone has the sniffles. Is it covid? Flu? RSV? Your sinuses are killing you and the brain fog is a pain in the ass, but the kids need your care first, and its only when they’ve finally fallen asleep that you’ve got your chance to lie down with a water bottle and a med-lemon and hope for the best. Tomorrow, it starts again.

And on top of all this, your little darling, light of your eye, has karate this evening, but there’s loadshedding and you know it will turn a 15 minute trip into an hour’s Wagnerian saga. You know there’s a grading coming up and your ray of sunshine is changing belt colour and it’s a Big Deal, but you don’t know how you’re going to make it, especially since the homework isn’t done and planning for dinner is something other people do. So you race to the dojo, only to realise that half the gi is packed, but that’s fine, because we can do karate where we are with what we have.

We see you in the parking lot, laptop out as you work by the cabin light of your car. Another kid doing homework in the back while waiting for their class. We know that you’re worried about so much, and we don’t want to add to it.

Here’s how we see it, and you, and all of this.

You’re trying your best, and sometimes you forget to message us to tell us that your kid is sick, and won’t be at the dojo. And we want to remind you that a grading is just a grading. Like a school test, it is just a little blip in the year. It needs to be done, but not at the expense of your sanity (or ours, for that matter). That a couple of missed classes isn’t as bad as quitting, and can easily be caught up in the fullness of time, for karate is long but life is short.

We get that belts or gi jackets get left at the other parent’s house – I too used to shuttle between two houses twice a week, and stuff gets forgotten. You’re human, it happens, and we understand. Most of our dojo is made up of blended or single-parent families, after all. We know that single parents are taking on the work of two parents without the benefit of the village we all used to lean on. Gone are the extended families, the retired grandparents. It’s us versus capitalism, and not enough hours in the day.

Even Chojun Miyagi, founder of Goju Ryu, didn’t place karate as his number one priority. Family and work came first. Karate should be part of a balanced life, but it does need to be given some priority for it to bring about the physical, emotional and mental changes we hope for, and there’s the rub.

The best advice we can give you is to just get to karate when you can, that’s all. Perfect attendance is impossible, and not necessary. An occasional missed class is not the end of a karate journey. It’s only when the missed class becomes a habit that the journey is in jeopardy.

We see you, karate parents, and we are so grateful that in spite of everything, you still make sure your kids get to the dojo most of the time. That anyone makes it to the dojo at all is impressive, given everything working against us.

We’ll be here when you can be here. That’s all, and that’s enough.

10 thoughts on “Dear Dojo Parents

  1. Molefe says:

    We appreciate you. And your understanding of family life’s first. There is no better dojo for any of our kids to be at. But yours. We salute you.

    1. Zoe Hinis says:

      Without family, we have no foundation to do anything else, never mind karate. And the stronger our dojo families are at home, the better their kids are to do other things – we would never get in the way of that. Thank you for this wonderful comment, and we hope to walk this path with your boys for many years to come.

  2. Dr. Arnold Rosenstock says:

    Honorable Sensei! Only the likes of you could compose such a glorious tribute..Fortunately for these disciplines and their young lions, there are others who walk your path as well. To all we humbly bow in respect.

    1. Zoe Hinis says:

      My blushes, good Doctor! If I can help others follow this path, and one day overtake me and make it even better for those that come behind, then I can go to my rest in peace. Thank you so much for this wonderful comment, I appreciate it so much 🙂

  3. Oreaz Abrahams says:

    Wow wow wow, reading this brought me to tears, the compassion and sincerity in every word was not only an honest reflection of our lives but so comforting knowing you take the time to watch us and you don’t just look you actually see us! And I see you, a women that’s committed, a mother that loves not only her own but ours too and a wife that’s supportive and loving.
    Words fail me but I am blessed to know my son is being groomed by your hands.
    Thank you for sharing and taking the time to write this, it’s what I personally needed to read.

    A grateful sigle mom ❤️

    1. Zoe Hinis says:

      Oreaz, it has been an honour to teach and to get to know your beautiful son – you are raising a wonderful young king, and it is a joy to watch him grow and see him come out of his shell. You are doing an amazing job, and we see and support each other, mother to mother. Thank you for this truly warm and kind message – it has made my heart glow xxx

  4. Yvette Mommsen says:

    Wow I’m speechless … how extraordinarily wonderful to have such compassion and true insight and understanding of everyone’s daily life “challenge”. To be a part of your community is a one in a million opportunity and I for one am forever grateful. Never have I felt more supported by a community like I do right now by you and your incredible Dojo. Thank you for contributing positively always. You will never truly comprehend how much it is valued. Take care to be there for yourselves too and I know always that my child will learn from this incredible example you set daily. The honour is ours to say we are part of the amazing community you have created and sustained despite so much.

    1. Zoe Hinis says:

      Ah, Yvette – what a beautiful, beautiful comment to receive, and an honour to have you as part of our community. Watching Luke grow and being able to support him in his life’s journey is a privilege and a joy, and we hope to continue walking this path with you for many years to come. Thank you for always supporting us, and for trusting the process xxx

  5. Zoe Hinis says:

    This was the kind of read I needed this morning. It’s truly amazing to have found you right on our doorstep. God truly brings people together in the most amazing ways. In the little interactions we have had with you Zoe, it is so evident your heart is so big and so bold and we love that about you. Now that the twins plus one have started on this journey with your DOJO, we look forward to this being the calm against our daily storms. Thank you for the amazing words of love and compassion. May you and all your DOJO families grow from 1 success to many more.

    1. Zoe Hinis says:

      Ah, Ruwaida – thank you so much for these truly beautiful words! I needed them this week, my heart is a bit sore and this is a balm to me. Teaching your three special kids is a privilege, and I hope to walk this journey with them for many, many years to come 🙂

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