I took my two oldest kids roller skating for a fundraiser/spirit event for their school a few weeks ago. Neither of them had been skating before and both were very excited. I’m sure they had visions of themselves zipping around the rink with their friends, T-Swift blaring over the sound system. Of course, as often happens, reality was a bit different from expectations. My son was surprised by how heavy and awkward the skates were. My daughter was dismayed at how slippery the floor was. Both were not fans of the frequent falling down. But as I watched them that night, I felt my eyes grow a bit misty.
While it may seem silly to get teary-eyed over a night of bad roller skating, there are many things I hope my kids learned from their experience, far more important than the actual act of skating:
1. Get back up.
My daughter must have fallen close to fifty times that night. I’m sure her ego was as bruised as her rear end, but she struggled back to her feet every single time and tried again. I hope she will remember to be resilient and determined, and that she can do hard things.
2. Don’t only do the things you’re good at.
My son tends to be a perfectionist, and can be very hard on himself and get frustrated if he isn’t immediately successful at something. Skating was hard for him, and he definitely had moments of anger when he couldn’t make his body do what he wanted it to do, but even when I thought he might, he didn’t give up. We will all be faced with challenges, or compare ourselves to others who seem to just “get” things in ways we can’t. But giving up teaches you nothing and there is so much you might miss out on.
3. Take breaks.
While I want my kids to be hard working and determined, I also want them to know their limits. Sometimes you can only get better if you take a step back and gain some perspective. Sometimes you need a breather…and a giant pretzel with hot cheese.
4. Have a sense of humor.
My daughter could have whined and cried and counted her bruises. She could have been embarrassed as her friends whizzed by her while she struggled to her feet again. Instead, she laughed. Long and loudly, and almost every time. May we all give ourselves enough grace and have enough confidence to laugh at ourselves sometimes.
5. Have someone to hold onto.
My kids had sweet friends who skated slowly with them, or held their hands, or helped them up. Sometimes they sat together on the carpeted edge of the rink and laughed and sang. Isn’t almost everything easier and more fun with someone to do it with? It’s also easier to keep getting up when you have someone helping you get there. I think that may be the most important thing I hope they remember as they get older: don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.