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  • Kristan Higgins

Why my children actually became black-belts

Updated: May 3, 2022

Oh, Hiddles, how I adore you!

Leo Killian, the hero of IF YOU ONLY KNEW teaches piano. Children love him, mothers bring him pies, Jenny, our heroine, spies on him from her kitchen window. And who wouldn’t? He’s got it going on.

Which brings me to a somewhat embarrassing confession of mine—I’m not sure my kids would be black-belts today if Sensei Tom hadn’t looked like a young Brad Pitt.


Picture a karate studio. The moms (and the occasional dad, but mostly the moms) would sit in horribly uncomfortable chairs, their other children ignored, their cell phones silenced, so we could watch the wonder of Sensei Tom. Oh, how the heart leapt when Tom would retie a belt or pat a child on the head! How we cherished the photos of our little ones with Tom kneeling next to them every time they advanced a level!

Occasionally, Tom would come out to speak to a parent. “He’s doing great,” he might say, and the mom would blush a little (or swoon).


Me, well, you know me. “God, you’re good-looking!” I may have said the first time we met. Once, Dearest Son told Tom that “My mommy thinks you move like Spiderman.” (In my defense, there was little more thrilling than seeing Sensei Tom demonstrate a flying sidekick or whatever you call it.)

As my kids got older, they whined in the great tradition of whining adolescents everywhere. “I’m tired of karate!” or “I have so much homework!” I didn’t care. I didn’t care one little bit! Sensei Tom was waiting. He was eye-candy and a great teacher. And he really loved my kids, a quality I adore in any human.

So both my kids became black belts, God love ‘em. And once in a while, we run into Sensei Tom at the local coffee shop, and he always gives us a hug. All of us. Just sayin’.


As for Leo Killian…if the kids’ piano teacher had looked like him, we’d be heading for Carnegie Hall.


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