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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Falling Down

This spring, my Daisy troop voted to use their cookie money to go ice skating.  Disney on Ice has just been to town, so I wasn't shocked.

We also live in the desert, so I assumed that most had never been skating.

One girl had.

The picture of 14 little girls with visions of ice princesses in their heads stepping out onto the ice to realize that ice is, in fact, slippery, terrified me.  I am not a great skater.  Fourteen little girls hanging on to me, crying, falling... not good.

So I asked if perhaps they would like lessons?  Of course, I happen to have a fabulous friend who is a professional ice skater.  He and his gorgeous and amazing wife said they would be happy to.

Really?  Crazy people....

But Kat, the wife, was AMAZING with the girls.  AMAZING.

The girls got on the ice and as I expected, many started crying and panicking.  Kat was not phased.  The mommies were freaking out.  I was taking deep breaths.

The first thing she taught them was how to stand up.   14 little girls stood up.

The second thing she taught them was how to fall down and get back up.


Because once you're not scared to fall down any longer, it takes away all the fear of falling.  You know you can stand up-- so why not just go for it?

I thought it was absolutely profound.

Twelve of the girls were skating like pros.  In less than 20 minutes.

Be impressed. 

My daughter was not one of them.  To her credit, she's been very cautious since she broke her leg.  She also enjoyed the extra attention.  Because that's how she is.

With that said, it made me start to think a little bit about how I parent.  I've always let my kids suffer consequences.  If they forget their lunch- oh well.  Homework not done?  Too bad.  My son asked me to write a note once explaining that he hadn't done his homework.  This is what I wrote:

Skip did not do his homework.  
He asked me to write you a note.  
I am writing you a note.  
Do what you wish.

Nice mom, aren't I?

It's panicked other moms.  "You aren't really going to let them go to school without their lunch?"  Yes, I am.  Each kid has done it once.  Trust me, it works.

But I've never intentionally forced them out of their comfort zones or pushed them down.

My husband and I decided that they needed to be more active, so we signed them up for a basketball skills class.  Not a league or anything-- they had never had any real experience with basketball except playing at home.

Oh- and another thing-- when did 10 become too late to start a sport?  Holy crap-- if a kid isn't in a professional touring league by 8, their athletic life is apparently over.  I thought getting a good base in school was more important and sports were for fun as a kid.  I thought junior high or high school was when it should get serious.  Crap.  What happened to play?  But that's a blog for another day...

Back to basketball--

My son did fine.  He actually likes it.  It's why we have a basketball hoop.  He needs to learn a few skills, but he loved it.  We had to push him to do it-- he doesn't like to do things that he's not good at-- typical gifted kid.

My daughter was over the top to do it.  She knows I love basketball.  She has dreamed of being on a team with me as her coach.  She picked out the best outfit-- she looked adorable.

And boy did she ever suck.

Big time.

It was so bad, it was hilarious.

My daughter runs like Phoebe from "Friends."  No joke.  She flails.  She smiles.  She has fun.

She could not understand how to dribble a basketball.  I don't even know how to explain it.  It never crossed my mind that a person wouldn't be able to dribble.  She did this slapping thing- had a blast doing it-- like I had never seen before.

I was speechless.  I tried to help her, but I was at a loss.

The instructor was great.  He helped her out and kept the class going. 

She was sweating.  She was trying so hard.  About half way through, it became work.  She kept trying.

She got marginally better.  Marginally.

When we walked out I asked her if she liked it.  She said yes but then added "Wow- I'm really bad.  I was obviously the only person who had never played before."  It was the first time she seemed even remotely negative.  I asked her if she wanted to keep going and she "Definitely yes."  Not just "Sure, Mom, if you want me to."

She wanted to nail it.  She said "I'd like to be able to get the ball in the basket at least once."

She picked herself up.

Because in the end that's what distinguishes success from failure- the ability to get back up.

In the past few weeks I've heard stories from people about "tragedies" in their lives-- flat tires, chipped teeth, bad flights. 


I think not.

I don't want my kids to be in their 40s and think that a flat tire is a disaster.  It's a flat tire.  Call road service.  It's an inconvenience.

Failure is much easier to deal with when you're 7 and it's a basketball.  It's much harder when you're 50 and lose your job.

I always tell my kids that I'm a mean mom and some day they'll thank me.

Watching my daughter struggle with a basketball and her big smile made me realize that getting back up not only teaches you a lesson, it also can be fun.  She was proud of herself for every time the ball didn't shoot across the court-- and it did.  A lot. 

Success always feels better after you fail.  You know it's not only luck- you own it.  You did it. 

And her bright smile reminded me that that is a very important trait to have. 

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