My son W recently started taking karate at our local YMCA. Earlier this week I was helping him get ready for class and I had this crazy moment of panic.
“PLEASE don’t let my kid become a Johnny Lawrence!”
Everything I know about karate comes from The Karate Kid franchise. Of course you guys all remember Johnny, right? In the film he was a passionate student of “Cobra Kai,” also known as THE BAD KARATE. Meanwhile Daniel, the kid who was supposed to be our hero, was always so reluctant to learn.
Johnny was a jerk and a bully, but his enthusiasm for the sport was huge. I watched W practice his moves in the long hallway of the YMCA and I instantly wanted to pull him over and tell him everything about the movie. I wanted him to know that being passionate and driven about a sport is fantastic and wonderful, but a sport should never turn him into someone he isn’t. A sport could make him a better boy, but if anyone tried to tell him to use a sport to harm another person, they were wrong. And bad. And, hold on, you see, there was this kid named Johnny …
Our generation learned a lot of life lessons from the movies we grew up with, but unfortunately my 6-year-old is still too young to sit down and discover the amazing oeuvre of John Hughes and beyond. For now, I’ll just have to settle for calming my pop culture mom brain by making a list of the films that influenced me greatly and making a note of what I think my son can take away from them.
1. The Breakfast Club | Everyone has a story.
One day you may find yourself being forced to spend time with people you don’t really know. Don’t assume you don’t have anything in common with these people. Talk to them and find out their stories. EVERYONE has a story. Even you.
2. E.T. | When you meet someone new and different, befriend them.
Show them the way if they seem lost and protect them from those who would do them harm.
3. Indiana Jones | There’s a history to every object you encounter.
4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | We all need a mental health day every once in a while.
Sometimes school can be overwhelming. Taking a mental health day is OK. (But check in with me first.)
Stick up for each other and never leave a friend behind.
If you get excited by science class, work to connect with your teachers. Sometimes they are involved with pretty incredible side projects, and they might need your help.
7. Ghostbusters | Keep your fridge clean.
8. The Karate Kid | No one roots for the bully.
9. The Princess Bride | Being loyal will take you far.
10. Real Genius | Believe in your smarts.
I know it can sometimes feel weird to grow into the people we were born to be, but don’t shy away from the real you.