Yesterday was a busy day for me. I worked the midnight to eight shift, then returned home to clean myself up and bust out the old suit and tie before heading down to Manhattan for my volunteer gig, and our annual holiday luncheon. I arrived at the dojo late, our first class (8 and 9 year old girls- the boys and girls have separate groups, which makes changing after swim class easier) was getting ready to leave (my counterparts Frenchy the Paisano, Handsome Al from Brazil, and the Moroccan George Clooney ran the class... it's nice to be part of an ensemble cast). As soon as they saw me, the girls mobbed me, and peppered me with questions: "Where were you? Why were you late?" I explained to them that I had to work overnight (this confused them, so I had to explain that certain jobs require around-the-clock coverage). I then showed them pictures of my workplace, and my precious kitties. I made sure that I spent some time talking to each and every one of them. I have to say, there is no group of human beings on the planet who are more loving and caring than a bunch of young children... our kids are good to each other, and good to us old geezers.
Our next class was our "under eight" group- I think the youngest ones are five. We split the rather large group up, and I reviewed o soto gari with my subgroup (we had a newcomer, who I paired her up with Charlotte, a tiny six-year-old bruiser who is really good about helping her partners), and I taught them o uchi gari. I was so proud to see them working together so beautifully. Afterward, we had them all line up for randori- as always, it was hilarious to see a bunch of Very Small Children throwing a bunch of big guys around. Again, I made sure I spent a little time with each of our students.
After class, we all assembled and had a nice semi-formal luncheon. The kids sang carols. It was a really nice day, but there was an undercurrent of melancholy... Sitting with the other coaches at an "adults only" table, we discussed the horrific event of the day before. Most of the victims were in the age range of the classes we taught. As much as I don't like to play favorites, the little kids are the most fun to teach- they have no preconceived notions, they are enthusiastic, they are affectionate. As much as I joke about throwing them around like they were boxes marked "fragile" and I was working in a WalMart Distribution Center, they are vulnerable. I can't even fathom wishing to hurt one of them.
Cherish the children... that's the takeaway... cherish the children.