I wouldn’t consider my kids big risk takers. They have never been the type of kids to climb to the highest peak on the jungle gym, or jump off the back of the couch or climb the outside of the staircase. They are usually pretty careful, and I don’t know if I attribute that to overbearing parenting, or just good common sense.
But I’ll take it.
So, when a notice came home for a skating event with the school, I wasn’t sure if they would want to participate.
True to form, the Little Mouse took it out and said, “I don’t want to go” almost immediately. The Little Bird however, was all over it.
I’m a horrible parent, and even worse Canadian. I haven’t been on skates since I was about 15, and don’t even own skates. Neither does D.
I have asked the girls if they wanted to try skating lessons, for the past few seasons, but they always say no. They don’t want to. And I’ve learned my lesson to try to force them to do an activity that they are unwilling to do.
[watch money fly out the window]
So, we are that Canadian family who doesn’t skate.
There, I said it.
The Little Bird has been skating before. It was only once, but she seemed to enjoy it. The school had the same activity back when she was in grade 1, however they didn’t do it again, because students are required to wear helmets, and they didn’t want to impose that cost onto parents who may not have a helmet for their kids.
Like, say me, for example.
Now I had to decide if we would participate in this year’s activity. Do we go? Or not? And where was I finding skates and a helmet for the Little Bird, who actually wanted to go? Because funny thing was that I still had the skates and helmet that would fit the Little Mouse, but she didn’t want to go.
I did what any mom would do, I started making phone calls. We asked my sister-in-law, a hockey mom, if the Paxter had some old skates that he’s outgrown that we could borrow. And we scored (pun intended), and not only got skates that fit her, but also a helmet.
The catch on the helmet was that it didn’t have a face cage. So off I went to various sports stores in search of a face cage for this helmet.
Question: do you know how much a cage costs? Just the cage, not even with the helmet??
Answer: Too much for me to buy one for a one-hour activity for one day.
I called the school after my exhaustive search asking if the cage was mandatory, and found out, it was not, thankgod.
By now, a week had passed, and the Little Bird had convinced the Little Mouse to try the skating. I tracked down a skating-helper -walker-thingy (read: those metal balancing contraptions kids can push around the ice to help them balance), confirmed old skates and helmets fit all respective kids, got said skates sharpened, filled out permission slips and sent money for activity.
On the day of the activity, I made my way to the local rink. The kids were coming in groups according to their age and grade, so the Little Mouse was up first. I had the skating helper and she was very excited to get her skates on and get started
Then she stepped on the ice.
To say she had a death-grip on my hand would put it mildly. She did not want to let go. She was petrified of falling. Luckily the principal had put a barrier on one side of the rink to keep the novice skaters separated from the future Olympians, so we slowly shuffled over to that side.
After finally releasing her grip from my hands to the skating helper, she slowly started shuffling herself across the ice. And that’s pretty much all she did. I wasn’t allowed to let go of the helper, and I wasn’t allowed to move to fast.
We went back and forth for a while, but she was too afraid to go faster. Her friends would come by to say hi, and cheer her on. One even urged her to try standing on her own, but she wouldn’t let go. I reassured her, cheered her on myself and praised her for doing so well on her own, but she wasn’t having any of it. After 20 minutes, she was over it. She wanted to get off that ice and be done.
I had managed to convince her to let me let go, and coerced her into staying on for another 20 minutes, mainly by not going near the door to get off the ice. But soon I knew she was over it. It didn’t matter what her friends said, or what the principal tried, she was over it.
So, we sat on a bench outside the rink for a bit and eventually she wanted out of her skates too, so I gave in. She (grudgingly) lasted 40 minutes of her one-hour time slot, and for the first time on skates, I’d say that was pretty good.
Then the bus showed up with her sister. So, I ran to put away the skating helper, because my back was already hurting from being hunched over and knew the Little Bird would be way too tall in skates to use it.
The Little Mouse hugged us both and off we went.
I was surprised by the trepidation, since the last time she got on the ice, she didn’t want my help. But age does that to you, and she was older, taller and a little more fearful of falling. I held her arm, and we made our way to the cordoned off area. One of her friends were there too, and the principal gave them both larger chairs to use as an aid. They both shuffled back and forth, ensuring I stayed close by.
After a while, her friend wanted to use the boards, so she ditched her chair, but the Little Bird wouldn’t let go. She was the only one still using a chair, and I told her to try the boards. Let go…she might like it.
She was afraid, but she did. And I got rid of the chair, which eventually got taken off the ice completely.
She seemed to be getting more comfortable, and together with her friend, we decided to try going around the whole rink. They both mostly stayed on the boards, but there were times where they would shuffle beside me.
There was no skating…it really was more of short shuffles on the skates. But hey, they were doing something and they were moving.
They seemed to like it when I stood in between them, this way they could quickly grab me for support, so I slowly walked between them. (Note, I wore my boots on the ice.)
The both did a few glides, a few pushes, and eventually they were both sort of skating. I moved them a little further from the boards, and they seemed to be having fun. We went around and around, and they had a great time.
The Little Bird had a smile plastered to her face, and she loved it. And more importantly, she was proud of herself for trying something new and not giving up.
I am proud of both of them. They have asked if they could go skating again, and while the weather had warmed up considerably, we can still go to the indoor rink. The Little Mouse still has a bit of fear, and talks about the four times that she fell, but focuses more on the fact that she got back up again.
Isn’t that what life is really about? We all fall, but it’s getting back up that matters the most. And the willingness to try new things. So, whether we skate or shuffle, we just keep moving forward.
Are your kids ice-loving, future Olympians? Or are you like me and have kids who would just rather skip sports of any kind?