A number of years ago my wife and I enrolled our daughter in a martial arts school. After watching for a few weeks, we decided to join up as well — “What the heck — seems like a good way to get exercise…” Fifteen years later she no longer goes, but we have progressed to the point where we teach at that same school.
It’s a very kid-friendly place. There are periodic half-day “kids camp” events where a couple of hours are spent teaching martial arts, and a couple of hours are spent playing “ninja games” where they can run and scream and roll around to their hearts content. Parents love these events, because they are usually held near holidays, and it’s cheap daycare.
Recently I was eating a sandwich during the lunch break following a bout of ninja games, looking over 50 kids in random happy groups spread across the mat eating, lunch boxes, paper bags, insulated sacks, soda cans, water bottles, juice boxes, conversation and giggles all over the place. All kinds of crumbs, as well — we have to quickly clean the whole mat before activities can resume.
Sitting there, I’m thinking about how remarkably well all these kids get along, when it suddenly occurs to me that this is a totally integrated scene — asian, black, latino, middle eastern, white, and undetermined in roughly equal portions. It was beautiful, and for a moment I could be proud to be human.