Last night the children got their Green Senior belts.
Well, they were awarded their belts. They tested last week.
The Taekwondo awards ceremony is always a spectacle to behold. I appreciate the pomp and circumstance of all of it, even though we are in a strip mall next to the Little Ceasars pizza and a grocery store. The children work really hard and their instructors are black belts so it's not like they are watching a Billy Blanks tape and someone is handing out belts when the screen goes black.
If you aren't from the South you probably do not understand that it is necessary to bring a large group of people with you, presumably everywhere you go. Don't get me wrong, I think it's fine that Pappy and Mammaw and Uncle Eugene see little Willis get his award. I have no problem with that really, and actually? I think it's kind of sweet. But anyway, I tell you this because it's a data point in the story and I know not everyone has a large extended family that gives two craps about them and lives in close enough proximity to come and see them get awards. I don't and neither do Boy and Girl Child.
So last night I was sitting in the folding chair next to the door waiting for my children's ceremony to begin when a family of approximately six hundred came in to see a little girl, whom we shall refer to as Gretel, get her yellow belt. The family included, but was not limited to: mom, dad, mom's boyfriend, dad's new wife, three cousins, granny, and Pap-Pap. Pap-Pap was about two-hundred years old and had less teeth than the newborn he was carrying like a football. He also had a bum leg, whacked me soundly in my good leg with his cane, and, I later found out, a cell phone.
Mom and Dad clearly did not like one another and made several snide comments along the lines of, "Well I thought YOU were bringing YOUR camera". Dad had come in with new wife in tow, on a motorcycle that looked like it was best used before 1954. He parked it on the sidewalk. Also? He spoke in an inappropriately loud voice. I soon found out that so did Pap-Pap.
The white and yellow belts were awarded first. Gretel received her yellow belt, but did NOT receive the gold stars which indicated that her parents and her teacher concurred that she was behaving appropriately at both home and school.
During the awarding of belts, in which every child's name is called and they receive a certificate and then walk through a line of six people, bowing and shaking hands until they finally receive their new belt, Pap-Pap's phone rang.
Now, I'm going to be charitable and assume that Pap-Pap was hard of hearing, because I'm fairly certain the citizens of the next county over could hear Pap-Pap's ringtone. Which was something like, "Ooh boy you're looking like you like what you see, so come over and check up on it." Or some other Beyonce song, I don't know. Clearly I am not as hip as Pap-Pap.
Pap-Pap then answers the phone and has, in an inappropriately loud voice, a five minute conversation regarding what he is going to have for dinner "oncest the Karate thing" was over. Fried taters and onions seemed to be the front-runner for his dinner selection. Finally he hung up with that individual only to get ANOTHER call about three minutes later. This time, apparently the cell connection wasn't quite as good because he kept saying in his inappropriately loud voice, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU? DO WHAT NOW?"
Did I mention that several parents were taping their children getting their awards? Yeah. I'm sure they loved hearing about chicken-fried steak and sweet taters. That's something to preserve for future generations.
After the white and yellow belts were awarded the students receiving them were dismissed and the next group of students, which included Boy and Girl Child, ran out to the mat. Gretel ran over to her entourage and her father said in his inappropriately loud voice,
"GRETEL AIN'T GOT NO STARS CAUSE SHE DON'T ACT RIGHT!"
Well. Hm. I have no idea where Gretel gets that particular character flaw. I gave him a withering look, to no avail.
"GRETEL," he bellowed. "SHOW PAP-PAP WHAT YOU GOTTA DO WHEN YOU GET IN TROUBLE FOR YOUR SMART-ASS MOUTH!"
Gretel immediately dropped to the floor and began doing push-ups. "Like a boy!" she exclaimed, through gritted teeth.
Meanwhile, seriously, the ceremony is going on. I'm trying to watch my children get their belts.
"YOU AIN'T DOING IT RIGHT!" shrieked Angry Dad, who then, and I'm totally not kidding, DROPPED TO THE FLOOR AND STARTED DOING PUSH-UPS.
I looked around for the candid camera. You know I didn't see one.
THEN, Pap-Pap proclaimed, "WHEN I WAS IN THE WAR, I USED TO DO ONE HANDED PUSH-UPS!"
My immediate thoughts:
1) The Civil War?
2) For the Love of God, if Pap-Pap starts doing push-ups on the floor of the Taekwondo school I am calling the paramedics, because Pap-Pap does not appear hale nor hearty enough to even WALK much less exert himself physically in any other way imaginable.
But I said, "Shhh" and pointed to the ceremony instead. Because. GOOD GOD. I had sat quietly while their child got her yellow belt. I had not physically assaulted Pap-Pap while he debated the merits of fried fish and pinto beans and taters. I had not even screamed "OUCH!" when Pap-Pap whacked me with his cane. I had been nice.
Apparently, my asking them to shut up in a really polite way was extremely offensive because they gave me a dirty look and Angry Dad stated, loud enough for the kids making pizza next door at the Little Ceasars to hear, "GRETEL GET YOUR SHOES ON SO WE CAN GO."
Thank God, I thought.
But oh. No. Pap-Pap and Angry Dad had more in store for me.
For you see, Angry dad had parked his motorcycle on the sidewalk, pretty much directly behind my head. And he decided to go outside and speak in his inappropriately loud voice about how Gretel wasn't acting right at school. And? Get into a screaming match with Gretel's mom and her boyfriend. And? Rev up his motorcycle and DRIVE ON THE SIDEWALK.
I was thinking, "I swear to Frog, if Pap-Pap gets on that motorcycle I don't give a crap if my children are being handed their belt at that exact moment I am grabbing their hands and getting the hell out of here." Because Pap-Pap couldn't even walk unassisted, much less ride a motorcycle that looked like it was probably made the year before he was born.
Fortunately, Pap-Pap got into his pick-up, Angry Dad and his new wife drove off, and Mom, the boyfriend, Gretel, and the assorted cousins went over to pick up pizza.
So, all's well that end's well, I guess.
Except that it's all just so wrong.
And honestly? If Gretel turns out even 1/2 normal? I'll give her a star myself.