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Another Fall

January 12, 2012

My sister always makes fun of me for this, but I have often articulated my eager anticipation of the day I can take my kids to a lesson or activity where they don’t need me and I can just read my book. Is that so crazy? I didn’t think so.

So I was really excited to see ice skating lessons that each of my kids could attend at the same place and time. They would learn a valuable skill that I cannot teach them. And I could read. I would not have skates on, so there is no way I could be involved in their lessons in any way. No. They would be out on the ice, in the loving care of their teachers, and I would spend a whole hour with a book. I couldn’t wait.

They got (used) ice skates for Christmas, simply because I couldn’t stand the idea of waiting in line for rentals before every lesson. Crazy? Considering how expensive even used skates are, maybe, but I really do hate the IDEA of standing there with a bunch of other people while my kids run around and we only have a few minutes before class, because donning ice skates is time consuming. Heck, that step keeps me from bowling more than twice a year, and ice skates are much more of a pain than bowling shoes!

So, we had our own skates, snow pants, coats, gloves. we had even had a big pep talk on falling: EVERYONE falls when they are first learning to skate, it is not embaressing, no one will laugh at you, it does not mean you will never be able to spin. It wasn’t until we reached the rink room, though, that I realized that we were not actually prepared. For one thing, apparently hockey players smell as bad as wrestlers. Yuck. We also did not have the heavy luggage, padding, and sippy bottles all the other parents carry. Oh, and it seems that ice sports require the attendance of 2 parents, and some grandparents, too. Also, apparently beginners where bike helmets: makes sense, I just didn’t know it. Further, I wore a dress and nylons: this made me both cold and immodest as I scaled the bleachers and straddled and tightened 6 different skates.

I told a friend I would consider this endeavour a success if not 100% of my children cried at some point. Guess what? Success! We only had a 33% crying rate, but that was coupled with a 100% recovery rate. The youngest group, in which my boys skated, started off practicing falling and getting up off the floor before they hit the ice. Amos was so excited to be included with the group, rather than to sit on the sidelines with Mama, that he very enthusiastically threw himslef to the ground again and again. It was a treat to watch. PJ was great on the ice–very adept compared to the rest of his group, although he expressed some dissatisfaction with his performance as he was comparing himslef to some of the more experienced groups on the ice. Lily minimized her typical initial clingyness and mainatained a smile the whole class, even as she was laid out on the ice again and again. Everyone seems excited about next week.

I hope this doesn’t sound too mean, but I think it is important to teach kids how to fail. Not only that it is OK to fail, but how to recover from a failing, which is largely just a matter of giving it another try. Little kids, of course, fail all the time, but they don’t view it as failure because everyone around them is so pleased with the effort. But at some point in our lives, we tend to reach a point where we no longer view failure as evidence of trying, but as evidence that we should no longer try. We retreat into what we know we can do. Anyway, enough bleacher philosphizing, but I hope my kids can learn from this experience and others that failing is only a part of learning, and that they have everything to gain from trying again. And again. And again.

As a parent, I am practicing too. I had to watch my kids fail for an hour. I am no helicopter parent, in fact many who observe my parenting may think I am downright neglectful, but it really stretched me to watch my kids, who came for fun, fall again and again and again. I was unabale to help them physically and couldn’t even shout encouragement, so all I could do was watch their little bodies slam down and see if they had what it takes to get up and try again. And again. And again. Even knowing that they would inevitabely fall once more.

I did not even crack my book.

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