I’m all about new experiences and allowing the girls to try new things. Sam has definitely taught me that, as it is very much her personality to be open and try new things. Jamie and I are more of the constant, stick-to-the-routine, new-activities-can-be-exciting but-stressful, folk. Sam is good for Jamie in that sense because Ate can convince her sister to get her all excited about it too. But I know that it is a “fragile” kind of yes because she may not fully understand what she’s getting herself into. And Jamie needs extra prep time. Everything has to go smoothly the first time around, otherwise it’s game over for us (It sounds very much like me growing up! #karma).
Last winter the Ice Skating rinks popped up in different areas around town and we all got excited about it. It would’ve been our first ice skating experience, and it was something I wanted them to do. I thought about getting an instructor for us, however when I found out the cost for 30 minutes, I resorted to self-study over You Tube (my husband would be proud). It didn’t look too hard, I thought.
You know that saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Boy did it take on new meaning for me!
For our very first attempt, we went with some friends as a playdate. The girls were fairly excited and very game about it all. Sam stepped on the ice and was a natural from the beginning. It may have also been that her skates were double-bladed and it was easier to move and balance. In any case, she made it look easy.
Jamie’s excitement however quickly shifted into nervousness, and she held on to me as we got on the ice. And it was only then when I realized how hard it actually could be — especially for someone with no roller-blading or previous ice skating experience! It was hard enough to balance on my own, and definitely much harder while having to manage a tight-gripped 3-yr old by my side!
We hung on to the rail for a good portion of the time, and as I was trying to adjust my stride, I slid and flew. And not in the graceful way, mind you.
I’m sure you’re having a wonderful laugh, and that’s fine. I would have laughed too, but it hurt! Anyway more than that, I had pulled Jamie down on the ice. When I scrambled to get my bearings, I saw her face flat down crying.
I had consciously tried to break her fall and keep her up, although I can imagine the gravitational pull of me (and all my heaviness) was too much for an unstable ice skater. She she came tumbling down with me. Thankfully, it wasn’t more than a scratched lip.
As you may have guessed, it was game over for us at that point, both of us traumatized. I only realized it then that she could have broken her teeth, or hit her head (but thankfully they require kids wear helmets!). The experience rattled us both, and I was in emotional (and physical) pain for quite a few days.
Meanwhile, Sam was a natural! She loved it, learned it pretty quickly too, and went back again with her cousins over Holiday break. By then she was semi gliding already.
I knew that Jamie’s bad experience was totally my fault, and admittedly, I couldn’t live with it. I had to remedy it somehow. I would open up the topic, say it wasn’t her fault, and said we would DEFINITELY spend good money on lessons for her the next time around.
And as fate would have it, a friend offered us 2 free lesson passes at the rink her girls were learning in. Hurray! Sam could use the guidance and we’d see how she’d do on single-bladed skates, and it was the perfect opportunity to get Jamie back into the rink.
Jamie agreed to this idea, that a professional would hold on to her and teach her how to skate. And I was pleasantly surprised to see her gamely gear up again.
I was a little worried though that the skates were single-bladed and she wasn’t given a helmet, but my friend assured me that it was how they taught the kids there.
In the 30 minutes that the lesson lasted, Jamie was given a barrel to push forward, and taught to balance, let go and sit and stand. She had some trouble moving and started to look distressed, but the teacher helped her out.
Eventually the teacher moved the barrel far enough and asked Jamie to skate towards it… and she did!
Jamie looked totally stressed, but I was so proud to see her keep a brave face and carry through. She cried once (because a little boy knocked her down! Arg!), but the teacher kept her in the rink and told her it was ok to fall. I think that stuck to her because that’s what she told me in the end.
Jamie walked away from the experience a little braver and a little prouder. She talks about it still like a feat she had just conquered. And really it was! I try very hard not to force the kids to do things they don’t want to. I don’t think coercion will get us anywhere. And if I know that Jamie is anything like me, then it will never end well. I’m glad that the gentle persuasion and preparation tactics work though, because there are some instances that need that. It’s always a delicate balance when to do it. But when you get it right, and when it feels like their idea too, the rewards are much sweeter after.