A couple weeks ago, the guy teaching Aikido West's kids' classes resigned, in a sort of complicated situation whose simplified and circulated story is that he's too busy with his work. My teacher Cyndy is taking the Monday class, and another guy is taking the Thursday class. But Cyndy was in Nevada yesterday, and I did what I usually do, which is offer to help.

So, it's rare that I dread things. I'm abnormally competent, and (obviously) not artificially modest about it, so I think very highly of my ability to Jump In And Do Stuff, and that's been borne out by doing it many, many times. I was dreading Monday, though, knowing that it's not the most disciplined bunch of kids, feeling like I needed to have a plan, feeling unable to come up with one. I have raw nerves about people not listening to me, so the whole thing was pushing some buttons well before the event.

The other reason I don't dread things is that it's a self-created form of mental suffering, and indulging in anxiety is just a waste, because things are essentially never as bad as you think they're going to be. Imagine my surprise when I dreaded something, and it did in fact turn out to suck, a lot.

I dunno. It was chaos. I didn't have a plan, and it was clear I needed one. There were 3 kids who were very calm and disciplined, and 5 who needed/wanted to screw around and wrestle and be wild, and this is right after their much-loved teacher has left them; a teacher who, for better or worse, gave them a lot of leeway to run around and be wild. (The consensus is "worse", much as the kids loved it: the lack of discipline is one reason many parents declined to put their kids into his classes.) It turns out I'm a good aikido teacher, not a babysitter, so we did a bunch of movement stuff, played a couple games, and finally I ran out of ideas with about 25 minutes left in class. I sat everyone in a line and asked for suggestions, we played another game for a while, and then finally I lined them all up and asked, "Why are you doing aikido?". I had been curious about this anyway, and watching the boys screw around, was even more wondering why they bothered. Everyone said, "To learn techniques, so we can defend ourselves," which opened up a bit of conversation about how in order to learn aikido techniques you have to practice aikido stuff and not play games all the time. Finally I realized that (a) kids cannot break themselves into pairs like adults, you have to assign them, and (b) assign a kid who wants to screw around to work with a kid who wants to do a technique. I ended class 5 minutes early, freeing myself from the most thoroughly miserable hour I've had in years. (One of the guys was supposed to show up to help out, but he was sick, or at least asleep when I called his house at 3pm.)

That was the 7-10 class. The 11-15 class was much better, but I was so rattled from the younger class that I couldn't really appreciate it. Luckily it was an Anna night, so I got some hugs on the couch while sipping sherry and unpacking the experience and waiting for dinner to cook. But, uh. Not doing that again, any time soon, and not without more preparation and training.