During the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, I decided to take my toddler skating. I had never taken her skating and it had been ages since I stepped foot in a pair of roller skates. It never crossed my mind that she was too little or young.
She was excited to go skating. To my knowledge, her only experience with skating came from the movie Trolls where the character Bridget transforms into Lady Glitter Sparkles and dazzles Prince Gristle whilst on skates. So with nervous enthusiasm, we headed to the Chester County Sports Arena (the old Caln Roller Rink).
Our hopes were almost dashed when the girl at the counter told me they didn’t have skates to fit my daughter. Before giving up and heading out the door, they gave us a pair of skates two sizes too big. They tightened the skates as much as they could and told us to give it a try.
As with anyone starting something new for the first time, be it a toddler or an adult, there is slight apprehension of the unknown. The first time around the rink was a challenge. I stooped low (hurting my back) and held her in various positions to help her keep her balance whilst attempting to ‘skate’ around the rink. After the 2nd loop, I was exhausted and could not quite gauge her level of interest. We sat down and had a talk. “Do you like skating? Do you want to go home? Do you want to skate some more?”
To my surprise, she did not give up. Even with skates that did not fit, she got back up and headed toward the rink. In true fashion of every toddler I have ever met, she became distracted by the candy machines and video games, but eventually we landed back onto the rink. This time, however, something was different. She grew confident. She was unafraid. In fact, she refused to hold my hand. She started mimicking what other people were doing (even myself when I skated backwards). I stared at her in awe and thought “whose child is this?”
Of course I don’t recall what I was like at 2. However, I know who I am at 40 and I am not the most daring person and being afraid has kept me from doing a lot of things (even trying different foods). As we continued to skate, other people noticed and commented how she was better than they were. When asked about her age, the workers dropped their mouths. Surely they had seen other tots, but she showed an amazing amount of confidence, skill, and determination that was noticeable by many.
Of course she fell, but the swiftness to which she got up and dusted herself off left me with a huge smile on my face. In those 3 hours or so we spent skating I learned what a bold and independent child I have. I was also reminded of a few things as I reflected about our time.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
For a variety of reasons, we are afraid to venture into new territories. It could be the way we were raised, phobias about certain things, lack of exposure, or perhaps lack of encouragement. A woman at work talked about wanting to join a traveling singing group. I asked her, “what do you have to lose?” Her kids were older and didn’t need her as much at home. I encouraged her to try out for the group. Her audition was successful and she is now part of a group that she had admired for a long time. Without the push, she said she would have never thought it was possible. As a parent, I will try my best to expose my child to as many things as possible so that she can continue to live courageously and not feel handcuffed by fears.
Sometimes you fall, but remember to graciously pick herself back up.
How many times have we messed up a report at work? Had a bad relationship? Missed a field goal during an important game? Ok. So I have not personally missed a field goal during an important game, but you get the point. Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we fall. The key is not to relish on those mistakes or falls. We must, as my daughter did, dust ourselves off and get back to business. However, we must take those mistakes as learning tools so as not to repeat them again. By the time we left the skating rink, my daughter didn’t fall as much. She learned how to move her body in a different direction if she felt herself swaying one way. She self corrected and we must do the same at work, at home, and in any situation where we have simply messed up.
Help is fine, but after a while it’s ok to do it on your own.
As my daughter grows older, she will need me less and for different things. I no longer have to hold her bottle and feed her. She no longer needs me to carry her as she can walk on her own. Those milestones in her life were great for her, but also sad for me. She is no longer my little preemie, but a big girl now. And while I must relinquish my duties as a mom as she is discovering things on her own, she also needs to learn and be confident doing things on her own. Fortunately, she has no problem telling everyone that she wants to do it on her own. In life, we often rely on others so much that when the time comes to act on our own, we don’t know what to do. How many grown adults can’t do laundry because their parents did it for them so long? How many women don’t understand their finances because they let their husbands do all the finances? We have to seek some independence, but also we need others to encourage it as well.
So from skating, I learned so much and I look forward to continuing to learn from her as she continues to grow.